Public Health at Yale
The Department of Public Health at Yale, the predecessor to the Yale School of Public Health, was founded in 1915. Previously, the medical school had an active bacteriological laboratory, and both bacteriology and sanitary science were part of the Medical School curriculum. Irving Fisher, professor of political economy, suggested in 1907 that with the combined resources of the Medical School, the Sheffield Scientific School, and the Department of Economics, Yale could offer a program to train health officers for work in public health. A proposal was drafted by Fisher, George Blumer, professor of medicine, and Lafayette B. Mendel, professor of physiological chemistry, but was rejected as too unfocussed.
In 1914, in response to the fundraising campaign at the Centennial of the Medical School, the family of Anna M.R. Lauder donated the then large sum of $500,000 to endow a chair of public health. The recipient was to be a physician who would be an advocate for public health and lead the reform of the Board of Health and public health legislation in the state of Connecticut. Charles-Edward Amory Winslow was appointed to the Anna M.R. Lauder Chair of Public Health in 1915.
Public Health at Yale 1880s - 1960s
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- Charles A. Lindsley served as dean of Yale Medical School from 1863 to 1885. In later years, he devoted himself to public health issues, including vital statistics, sanitary science and preventive medicine. Dr. Lindsley played an important role in reorganizing the city's Board of Health in 1872 and served as its health officer from 1873 to 1888. He was also secretary of the Connecticut State Board of Health and served a term as president of the American Public Health Association.
- William Henry Brewer, professor of agriculture in the Sheffield Scientific School at Yale, lectured on sanitary science and public health at the Medical School from 1886 to 1898.
- The bacteriological laboratory at 150 York Street in New Haven also functioned as a hygienic laboratory for the Connecticut State Board of Health. Charles A. Lindsley, former YSM dean who was then serving as secretary of the State Board of Health, carried out testing of water supplies and laboratory research on water pollution and typhoid fever. Photograph taken before 1909.
- C.-E.A. Winslow was Yale's first chair of public health and first holder of the Anna M.R. Lauder Professorship in 1915. The Lauder bequest had specified that the recipient should be a physician who would be an advocate for public health and who, specifically, would reform public health in Connecticut. Although Winslow was not a physician, he was an ideal choice. He had received a BA in 1898 and a MS in 1910, under William H. Sedgwick, an American pioneer in bacteriology and sanitary science. Before coming to Yale, Winslow had held teaching posts at MIT and the College of the City of New York, served as curator of public health at the American Museum of Natural History and was in charge of public affairs for the New York City Board of Health. Winslow's department at Yale served as a catalyst for health reform in Connecticut and led the drive to transform the State Board of Health into a Department of Health. A world-renowned public health authority and a proponent of social medicine, Winslow influenced health policies locally, nationally and internationally. He wrote nearly 600 books and articles on bacteriology, sanitation, public health and health care administration and served as editor of the American Journal of Bacteriology and later as editor of the American Journal of Public Health.
- Through most of this period, the department consisted of C.-E.A.Winslow, his assistant, Ira Hiscock, and support staff. The department offered a Certificate of Public Health after a one-year course and a Doctorate of Public Health for more advanced training. Community service was part of the mission of the Department. Winslow led the campaign to transform the State Board of Health into a State Department of Health. This article by Winslow, appearing in the Yale Alumni Weekly in 1923, features an illustration of Nathan Smith Hall of the department’s home from 1919 to 1928. Located at 32 Park Street, the hall had been a private hospital and was later used by the Yale School of Nursing as a dormitory.
- Ira Vaughan Hiscock's appointment as Chairman and Anna M.R. Lauder Professor of Public Health in 1945 was a victory for Winslow. Francis Blake, John Paul, and others had hoped to appoint someone more oriented toward epidemiology and laboratory work. But a committee selected by Yale President Charles Seymour favored Winslow's disciple, Hiscock, a member of the faculty since 1920. Hiscock graduated from Wesleyan University, where he came under the influence of bacteriologist Herbert W. Chonn, and received a Certificate of Public Health from Yale in 1921. Like Winslow, Hiscock became a national and international authority on public health administration and directed numerous health surveys in locally and nationally. He was commissioner of the New Haven Board of Health from 1928 to 1958.
- In 1928 The Department of Public Health moved from Nathan Smith Hall to newly renovated quarters on the second floor of Brady Memorial Laboratory and the attached Lauder Hall.
- Philanthropist John B. Pierce founded The John B. Pierce Laboratory to advance research and education in the areas of heating, ventilation and sanitation. The building on 230 Congress Avenue was designed for environmental testing and opened in 1933 with C.-E.A. Winslow as its first director. Although the laboratory is independent, it maintains a close affiliation with the school and has chiefly been used for environmental health research.
- Francis Blake invited Dr. John Rodman Paul to become an assistant professor of medicine at Yale in 1928. He was appointed head of the new Section of Preventive Medicine in 1940 and later head of the Section of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine. Dr. Paul made significant contributions to the study of rheumatic fever, infectious mononucleosis and hepatitis, but he is especially noted for his work on poliomyelitis. He established the Yale Poliomyelitis Study Unit in 1931 with James Trask. Dr. Paul and his colleagues made many fundamental contributions to the understanding of poliomyelitis on which the subsequent immunization programs were based. He was named to the “Polio Hall of Fame” in 1958.
- One of Yale's pioneering epidemiologists, James Trask worked at the Rockefeller Institute of Medical Research to demonstrate that measles is a viral disease. He became a member of the Department of Pediatrics and with John Rodman Paul formed the Poliomyelitis Study Unit in 1931. They began investigating poliomyelitis when epidemics broke out in Middletown, Conn., in 1930 and in New Haven the next year. They went into the homes and neighborhoods of polio patients seeking to isolate the virus and understand its transmission. The pair took histories, did physical examinations and collected throat washings, which they tested by inoculating monkeys. It was demonstrated that the virus was present in the intestinal tract, in sewage and in flies that fed on feces. In 1936, they received the first research grant given by the President's Birthday Ball, which became the National Foundation of Infantile Paralysis. Dr. Trask continued to collaborate on the project until his untimely death in 1942 at the age of 51.
- Prominent faculty gather in this undated photograph. Ira Hiscock is in the first row (center). To his left is the school’s founder, C.-E.A. Winslow (hands clasped). John Rodman Paul is to the far left. Of note, the Department of Public Health admitted African-American students at a time when neither the School of Medicine nor the School of Nursing did. When accreditation was introduced in 1947, The Department of Public Health became a fully accredited school of public health while also functioning as a department of the Medical School. Instruction covered public health administration, industrial medicine, hospital administration, maternal and child health, mental hygiene, biostatistics, epidemiology, public health nursing, health education and environmental health.
- The World Health Organization in 1961 established at Yale one of three reference serum banks and the only WHO serum bank in the Western hemisphere. John Rodman Paul served as its director until 1966.
- Dorothy Horstmann, the John Rodman Paul Professor of Epidemiology and Professor of Pediatrics, joined the Section of Preventive Medicine in 1942 as a Commonwealth Fellow and joined the Yale Poliomyelitis Unit in 1943. Among her many notable scientific achievements, Dr. Horstmann demonstrated that the poliovirus reached the nervous system via the blood, a discovery that made later polio vaccines possible. She went on to evaluate an oral vaccine program in Russia and studied the effectiveness of a rubella vaccine. In 1961, she became the first female full professor at the Yale School of Medicine and in 1961 she became the first woman at Yale to hold an endowed chair. Dr. Horstmann was a member of the National Academy of Sciences.
- The Rockefeller Foundation arranged to move its viral laboratories from New York to the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at Yale and funded a major part of the construction of LEPH. In 1964, the Rockefeller Foundation Viral Laboratories moved to the new building and became the Yale Arbovirus Research Unit (YARU). This brought to Yale a group of the world's leading authorities on insect-borne viral infections—including Nobel Prize winner Max Theiler, professor of epidemiology and public health at Yale from 1964 to 1967. The World Health Organization recognized YARU as the International Reference Centre for Arboviruses.
- John D. Thompson headed the Hospital Administration Program, first established in 1947, from 1961 to 1988. Eccentric, irreverent and inspirational, he trained some 500 students during his long tenure. Thompson began his career as a nurse. After receiving a master's degree in hospital administration at Yale in 1950, Thompson gained experience through visiting hospitals in Europe and serving as assistant director of Montefiore Hospital. He returned to Yale in 1956 and with his colleague Robert Fetter, Thompson developed the now familiar Diagnosis Related Groups (DRGs) for coding medical treatments.
- LEPH rises. The school’s status was symbolized by a building separate, but connected, to the adjacent medical school. Noted American architect Philip Johnson, whose works include the Seagram Building and Four Seasons Restaurant in NYC, the John F. Kennedy Memorial Plaza in Dallas, the Boston Public Library and the Das Amerikan Business Center in Berlin, designed the building. Closer to home, Johnson also designed the Klein Biology Tower at Yale and his personal residence—The Glass House in New Canaan, Conn. LEPH was built with funds from the Rockefeller Foundation and matching funds from the University, the Avalon and Johnson foundations and the Baroness von Eberfeld.
- Anthony Monck-Mason Payne was the first chair of the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health from 1960 to 1966. He was a British physician and epidemiologist and had previously served as chief medical officer of the Epidemic Diseases Division at the World Health Organization where he directed worldwide studies on viral diseases. He oversaw the merging of departments and the reorganization of the degree programs. In 1962, the MPH program became a two-year program. His tenure was also marked by the construction of the Laboratory of Epidemiology and Public Health.