The newly launched Department of Population Health Sciences at Duke

Thursday, October 5, 2017

The Division of General Internal Medicine proudly acknowledges the recognition of several GIM faculty members moving to primary appointments in the brand new Department of Population Health Sciences (PHS). Amongst the new department leadership, formerly from GIM, Dr. Lesley Curtis is named as the Interim Chair and Dr. Hayden Bosworth as the Associate Director of Education.

"The School of Medicine and Duke Health leadership saw a real opportunity to address the absence of a department or school focused on public or population health, and that is what really drove this forward," says Curtis. 

Duke University School of Medicine comprises 23 clinical and basic science departments. Of these, Population Health Sciences aligns with the 8 basic science departments in research and education as well as a major service role.

Leslie Curtis, PhD

Research 

The PHS faculty represent a range of disciplines including epidemiology, health services research and policy, implementation science, health measurement, and behavioral science. According to Dr. Curtis, " Collectively, our research addresses key questions about health outcomes and underlying determinants of health and fits nicely under the umbrella of population health sciences."

Education 

The department plans to offer a Masters and a PhD program. The process has already begun and the department hopes to be able to recruit Master's students for fall of 2019.

Service

On the service side, they've identified three priority areas:

  1. Electronic Health Data
    Over the years, faculty members in PHS have amassed a fairly large tranche of Medicare claims data and other kinds of electronic health data. One opportunity already in sight is the prospect to create a more robust and secure infrastructure so that other faculty can plug into this data environment and use for their research. 
  2. Health measurement
    The department will provide consultation, advice and assistance throughout the school and within Duke Health, facilitating ways to measure health from the patient's perspective.
  3. Qualitative and Mixed Methods
    This service will help fill the demand for consultation and support of faculty who need, for example, to bring focus groups together and to deliver methodologically sound qualitative research. 

From a big picture perspective, Curtis is really looking forward to the education programs and the work in health measurement. "There's a lot of excitement for us around the corner," she says.