Division of Disease Prevention, Policy and Global Health

The Division of Disease Prevention, Policy and Global Health (DPPGH) has a broad mission incorporating  research, service and teaching.

Faculty are active at the local, state, national and global levels to influence factors that improve the health of populations. They bring this experience into the classroom through interactions with students, and connections to guest speakers. Reflecting their interdisciplinary nature, they work and teach closely with faculty in other divisions, departments at Keck, and schools within the university and beyond to develop collaborative projects in public health.

With a concern for improving health and well-being, they provide students with many opportunities, from approaches to addressing clinical interventions and improving preventive, therapeutic and disease outcomes; to addressing the complexities of health care systems and the systematic and structural factors that impact health in Los Angeles and around the globe.

Our diversity is our strength, impacting our research and teaching alike, we seek to demonstrate methodological innovation, pushing new approaches that will ultimately improve the practice of public health.

Students are invited to refer to the most recent course catalogue for specific course requirements.


Sofia Gruskin, JD, MIA

Director, Institute on Inequalities in Global Health
Professor, Preventive Medicine (Keck)
Professor, Law (Gould)

Rita Velikina Burke, PhD

Rita Burke, PhD, MPH is Assistant Professor of Clinical Preventive Medicine

Michael Cousineau, DPH

Michael Cousineau, DPH is Professor of Clinical Preventive Medicine and Family Medicine at USC. He has a joint appointment in the Sol Price School of Public Policy

Laura Ferguson, PhD, SM, MA

Laura Ferguson, PhD, SM, MA is Assistant Professor of Preventive Medicine and Spatial Sciences, Director of the Program on Global Health & Human Rights, and Research Director at the Institute on Inequalities in Global Health

Dr. Burke’s research focuses pediatric disaster preparedness and injury prevention. Her work includes evaluating gaps and identifying barriers in health and school systems to meet the needs of children, particularly those with access and functional needs, in a disaster. She is co-author of the book Landesman’s Public Health Management of Disasters and Associate Editor of Disaster Management and Public Health Preparedness. She is also the co-chair of the Los Angeles Children in Disasters Working Group and member of the Scientific Advisory Council for the American Red Cross.

Full Bio: https://profiles.sc-ctsi.org/rita.burke

  • Koeffler TJ, Demeter NE, Kysh L, Reeb J, Stayton A, Spears R, Burke RV. Evaluation and Gap Analysis of Pediatric Disaster Preparedness Resources. Disaster Med Public Health Prep. 2018 Mar 7:1-8. PMID: 29510775
  • Anthony C, Thomas TJ, Berg BM, Burke RV, Upperman JS. Factors associated with preparedness of the US healthcare system to respond to a pediatric surge during an infectious disease pandemic: Is our nation prepared? Am J Disaster Med. 2017 Fall;12(4):203-226. PMID: 29468624
  • Naim MY, Burke RV, McNally BF, Song L, Griffis HM, Berg RA, Vellano K, Markenson D, Bradley RN, Rossano JW. Association of Bystander Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation With Overall and Neurologically Favorable Survival After Pediatric Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest in the United States: A Report From the Cardiac Arrest Registry to Enhance Survival Surveillance Registry. JAMA Pediatr. 1;171(2):133-141, Feb 2017. PMID: 27837587

Dr. Cousineau’s work focuses on health policy, health services research, and evaluation specifically  access to care for the low income uninsured, governance and operation of safety-net providers including public hospitals, community-based clinics and health centers; and health needs of vulnerable populations including homeless people. His work includes studying the impact of initiatives designed to expand health insurance to adults and children, the dynamics of insurance coverage decisions by small businesses, alternative governance of safety net hospitals, and the health and mental health needs of the homeless. 

Full Bio: https://profiles.sc-ctsi.org/michael.cousineau

  • Cousineau, M. Kim, SE., Hamilton, A., Miller, K., & Milam, J. . Regular source of care for non cancer care among cancer survivors, Inquiry, 55: 1–8, 2019.
  • Cousineau MR, Kahn, H. and Tsai, K: Retaining children in health insurance after a premium increase,  Health Affairs,  31 (2): 360-367, 2012.
  • Cousineau MR, Cheng S. Flores H, Gates JD, Clute J and Douglas J:  Transforming a family medicine residency and practice into a federally qualified health center:  case study of an effort to form a partnership between a community hospital, a university and a community health center in South Los Angeles.  Academic Medicine, 88: 657-662, May 2013.

Dr. Ferguson’s research focuses on understanding and addressing health system and societal factors affecting health and developing the evidence base of how attention to human rights can improve health outcomes in low- and middle-income countries. She works on a broad range of health issues including HIV, sexual and reproductive health, and child health. Dr. Ferguson serves on a number of expert advisory groups to the World Health Organization and UNAIDS and is also an Associate Editor for Sexual and Reproductive Health Matters. Within USC, she has been a member of the Joint Academic Senate/Provost’s Committee on Teaching and Academic Programs since 2017 (co-chair for 2019-2020) and the Joint Academic Senate/Provost’s Research Committee since 2019.

Full Bio: https://profiles.sc-ctsi.org/laura.ferguson

  • Ryan M, Nambiar D, Ferguson L. Sex work-related stigma: experiential, symbolic and structural forms in the health systems of Delhi, India.Social Science and Medicine. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2019.02.052. 2019.
  • Gruskin S, Everhart A, Feliz Olivia D, Baral S, Reisner S, Kismödi E, Cruz D, Klemmer C*, Reich M, Ferguson L. ‘In Transition: Ensuring the Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights of Transgender Populations’ A Roundtable Discussion. Reproductive Health Matters.https://doi.org/10.1080/09688080.2018.1490624.2018. 2018.
  • Ferguson L, Nicholson A, Henry I, Saha A, Sellers T, Gruskin S. Assessing Changes in HIV-related Legal and Policy Environments in Sub-Saharan Africa. PLOS ONE. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0192765. 2018.
Sofia Gruskin, JD, MIA

Sofia Gruskin, JD, MIA is DPPGH Division Director, Professor, Keck School of Medicine and Gould School of Law, and Director of the Institute on Inequalities in Global Health

Susanna Hempel, PhD

Susanne Hempel, PhD is Professor of Research Preventive Medicine, Faculty at the Gehr Center for Health Systems Science and Innovation, and Director of the Southern California Evidence Review Center

Roksana Karim, PhD, MBBS

Roksana Karim, PhD, MBBS is Associate Professor of Clinical Preventive Medicine

Professor Gruskin’s work, which ranges from global policy to the grassroots level, is focused on developing the conceptual, methodological and empirical links between health outcomes, systems and processes  as they link to human rights and inequalities, in the areas of HIV/AIDS, sexual and reproductive health, child and adolescent health, gender-based violence, non-communicable disease and health systems. Gruskin sits on numerous international boards and committees including the PEPFAR Scientific Advisory Board, the Lancet Commission on Gender and Global Health, the IUSSP Steering Committee to Strengthen Civil Registration and Vital Statistics Systems, and the Lancet Commission on Health and Human Rights.

Full Bio: https://profiles.sc-ctsi.org/sofia.gruskin

  • Feldman J, Gruskin S, Coull B, Krieger N. ‘Police-Related Deaths and Neighborhood Economic and Racial/Ethnic Polarization, United States, 2015-2016,’ American Journal of Public Health, vol. 109, pp. 458-464 (2019). https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2018.304851.
  • Torres M, Erkkola T, Alfven T, Buse K, Bendaud V, Gruskin S.‘Monitoring HIV-related Laws and Policies: Lessons for AIDS and Global Health in Agenda 2030,’ AIDS and Behavior, vol. 21, no. 1, pp. 1-11 (2017).
  • Stemple L, Karegeya P, Gruskin S. ‘Human Rights, Gender and Infectious Disease: From HIV/AIDS to Ebola,’ Human Rights Quarterly, vol. 38, pp. 993-1021 (2016).

Dr. Susanne Hempel directs research at the Southern California Evidence Review Center (https://sites.usc.edu/socalevidencereview), leading contracts for federal agencies such as the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) and nonprofit professional organizations. Dr. Hempel oversees a large portfolio of evidence synthesis projects, including systematic reviews, evidence maps, and stakeholder panels; and leads large multi-site and multi-discipline projects. Dr. Hempel is an affiliate adjunct behavioral scientist at RAND and a professor at the Pardee RAND Graduate School (PRGS).

Full Bio: https://profiles.sc-ctsi.org/susanne.hempel

  • Hempel S (2019). Conducting Your Literature Review. Concise Guides to Conducting Behavioral, Health, and Social Science Research. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. https://www.apa.org/pubs/books/4313055
  • Hempel S, O’Hanlon C, Lim Y-W, Danz M, Larkin J, & Rubenstein L (2019). Spread Tools – A Systematic Review of Components, Uptake, and Effectiveness of Quality Improvement Toolkits. Implementation Science, 14(1):83. DOI: 10.1186/s13012-019-0929-8
  • Hempel S, Maggard-Gibbons M, Nguyen D, Dawes A, Miake-Lye I, Beroes J, Booth M, Miles J, Shanman R, Shekelle P (2015) Surgical Never Events: A Systematic Review of Wrong-Site Surgery, Retained Surgical Items, and Surgical Fires. JAMA Surgery, 10.1001.DOI:10.1001/jamasurg.2015.0301

Dr. Karim joined the USC faculty in 2007; soon after receiving her Doctoral degree in Epidemiology at USC Preventive Medicine. She was trained as a physician in Dhaka Medical College, Bangladesh. Her overarching research interest is women’s health, menopause and age-related chronic inflammatory health outcomes in women. She has published heavily on the impact of association of sex hormone concentrations with metabolic factors, atherosclerosis/cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and cognition in postmenopausal women. Dr. Karim also has vast interest in HIV-associated endocrine and cardiovascular complications in women and children. She has been involved with the Women’s Interagency HIV study since 2003.   

Full Bio: https://profiles.sc-ctsi.org/roksana.karim

  • Karim R, Koc M, Rettberg JR, Hodis HN, Henderson VW, St John JA, Allayee H, Brinton RD, Mack WJ. Apolipoprotein E4 genotype in combination with poor metabolic profile is associated with reduced cognitive performance in healthy postmenopausal women: implications for late onset Alzheimer’s disease.Menopause. 2018 Jul 2. doi: 10.1097/GME.0000000000001160. [Epub ahead of print]. PMID: 29975287
  • Karim R, Dang H, Henderson VW, Hodis HN, John J, Rettberg J, Brinton RD, Mack WJ. Effect of Reproductive History and Exogenous Hormone Use on Cognitive Function in Mid- Late-Life. Journal of American Geriatric Society. 2016 Dec;64 (12):2448-2456. PMID: 27996108.
  • Karim R, Dell RM, Greene DF, Mack WJ, Gallagher JC, Hodis HN. Hip fracture in postmenopausal women after cessation of hormone therapy: results from a prospective study in a large health management organization. Menopause (New York, NY). 18(11):1172. 2011. PMID: 21685547.
Sue Kim, PhD, MPH

Sue Kim, PhD, MPH is Assistant Professor of Clinical Preventive Medicine

Shubha Kumar, PhD, MPH

Shubha Kumar, PhD, MPH is Associate Professor of Clinical Preventive Medicine, Director of the Master of Public Health (MPH) Online Program, and Director of Education at the Institute on Inequalities in Global Health

Cecilia Patino Sutton, Ph.D., MD, MeD

Cecilia M. Patino-Sutton, MD Med PhD is an Associate Professor of Preventive Medicine, Director of Workforce Development SC CTSI, Multiple PI and Co-Director NIH KL2 Program, Director of Research Career Development, Keck School of Medicine

Dr. Kim’s expertise and research interests are health policy, health care utilization and service delivery in low-income and ethnically diverse communities, quality of care, and management of chronic conditions. Her work includes examining coordinated care for Medicaid recipients with chronic illness, diabetes prevention using digital health, and quality in cancer care. She teaches courses in health care delivery systems, health care quality, and research methods and statistical analysis. Dr. Kim trained as a health services researcher and health economist.

Full Bio: https://profiles.sc-ctsi.org/sue.kim

  • Kim SE, Castro Sweet CM, Gibson E, Madero EN, Rubino B, Morrison J, Rosen D, Imberg W, Cousineau MR. Evaluation of a digital diabetes prevention program adapted for the Medicaid population: Study design and methods for a non-randomized, controlled trial. Contemp Clin Trials Commun. 2018 Jun; 10:161-168. PMID: 30035241.
  • Chou AF, Page EE, Norris AI, Kim SE, Thompson DM, Roswell RH. A Survey of Self-Management and Intrusiveness of Illness in Native Americans with Diabetes Mellitus. Care Manag J. 2014 12; 15(4):170-183. PMID: 26294898.
  • Kim SE, Michalopoulos C, Kwong RM, Warren A, Manno MS. Telephone care management’s effectiveness in coordinating care for Medicaid beneficiaries in managed care: a randomized controlled study. Health Serv Res. 2013 Oct; 48(5):1730-49. PMID: 23557249.

Dr. Kumar’s professional and research interests include management and leadership in global health and development, program planning and evaluation, health systems strengthening, and best practices in knowledge transfer and health education.  Much of her research has focused on approaches to program monitoring and evaluation, including social return on investment (SROI) analysis, and capacity building.  She teaches courses in the area of global health leadership, ethics, and an international immersion course on planetary health and sustainable development. Dr. Kumar earned her MPH and PhD from UCLA in healthcare management and policy.

Full Bio: https://profiles.sc-ctsi.org/shubha.kumar

  • Gruskin, S., Ferguson, L., Kumar, S., Nicholson, A., Ali, M., Khosla, R. (2017). A novel methodology for strengthening human rights based monitoring in public health: Family planning indicators as an illustrative example. PLOS ONE 12(12): e0186330. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0186330.
  • Banke-Thomas, A., Madaj, B., Kumar, S., Ameh, C., van den Broek, N. (2017). Demonstrating Value-for-Money of Maternal and Newborn Health Interventions: A Comparative Analysis of Methods and their Application. BMJ Global Health. 2 (2) e000310; DOI: 10.1136/bmjgh-2017-000310.
  • Kumar, S., Banke-Thomas, A. (2016). Social Return on Investment (SROI): An Innovative Approach to Sustainable Development Goals for Sexual and Reproductive Health Programming in sub-Saharan Africa. African Journal of Reproductive Health. Special Edition on SDGs. 20(3): 85-93.

Dr. Patino-Sutton’s mission is to inspire and safeguard the careers of clinical translational researchers in training within the academic setting and beyond.   For this she has developed a robust educational program informed by an adaptive learning platform driven by strong tracking and evaluation processes. Specifically she focuses on developing innovative and  evidenced-based training practices, facilitating interactions between academia and local  communities, and  increasing the diversity of the research workforce to accelerate the improvement of human health.

Full Bio: https://profiles.sc-ctsi.org/cecilia.patinosutton

  • Patino CM, Kubicek K, Robles M, Kiger H, Dzekov JD. The community mentorship program: providing community engagement opportunities for early-stage clinical and translational scientists to facilitate research translation. Acad Med 2017 92:209-213 PMID: 2750842
  • Begg MD, Crumley G, Fair AM, Martina CA, McCormack WT, Merchant C, Patino-Sutton CM, Umans JG. Approaches to preparing young scholars for careers in interdisciplinary team science. J Investig Med. 2014 Jan;62(1):14-25. PubMed PMID: 24169319; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3970261
  • Patino CM, Okelo SO, Rand CS, Riekert KA, Krishnan JA, Thompson K, Quartey RI, Perez-Williams D, Bilderback A, Merriman B, Paulin L, Hansel N, Diette GB. The Asthma Control and Communication Instrument: a clinical tool developed for ethnically diverse populations. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2008 Nov;122(5):936-943.e6. PubMed PMID: 18848721.
Melissa Wilson, PhD

Melissa Wilson, PhD is Associate Professor of Clinical Preventive Medicine

Mellissa Withers, PhD, MHS

Mellissa Withers, PhD, MHS  is Associate Professor of Clinical Preventive Medicine, and Director of the APRU Global Health Program

Dr. Wilson attended the University of Pittsburgh for her undergraduate studies in Biological Sciences and obtained her Master of Public Health Degree in Epidemiology from the University of California at Los Angles in 1994. Dr. Wilson pursued her doctorate in Epidemiology at the University of Southern California, remaining there for a Postdoctoral position and subsequently accepting a faculty position with an appointment in Obstetrics and Gynecology in 2006.  She moved to Preventive Medicine in 2012 to pursue additional collaborations and teaching opportunities. Her research interests include genetic susceptibility to Preeclampsia and HELLP Syndrome, the long-term consequences of HELLP Syndrome, Hyperemesis Gravidarum, regulation of placental development, Gestational Trophoblastic Disease and in-utero programming.

Full Bio: https://profiles.sc-ctsi.org/melissa.wilson

  • Ding L, Blitz M, Wing D, Epstein A, Gjessing H, Wilson ML. PHLDA2 gene polymorphisms and risk of HELLP syndrome and severe preeclampsia.  Pregnancy Hypertension. 2020 Jan;19:190-194. PMID: 32062476
  • Gray KJ, Kovacheva VP, Mirzakhani H, Bionnes AC, Almoguera B, DeWan AT, Triche EW, Saftlas AF, Hoh J, Bodian DL, Klein E, Huddleston KC, Ingles SA, Lockwood CJ, Hakonarson H, McElrath TF, Murray JC, Wilson ML, Norwitz ER, Karumanchi SA, Bateman BT, Keating BJ, Saxena R. Gene-Centric Analysis of Preeclampsia Identifies Maternal Association at PLEKHG1. 2018 Aug;72(2):408-416. PMID: 29967039. PMCID: PMC6043396
  • Ouzounian JG, Korst L, Sanchez M, Chauhan S, Gherman RB, Opper N, Wilson ML. Clinical risk factors do not predict shoulder dystocia. The Journal of Reproductive Medicine. Dec. 2016; 61 (6): 571-580. PMID: 30226711

Dr. Withers’ research centers around issues of women’s empowerment, including gender-based violence and global sexual and reproductive health. Other areas of focus are mental health, immigrant health, and community participatory research. She has worked in Asia, Latin America, and Africa. Dr. Withers is the editor of two books: Global Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health Across the Lifecourse, and Global Health Leadership: Case Studies from the Asia-Pacific.  She also writes a blog on human trafficking.

Full Bio: https://profiles.sc-ctsi.org/mellissa.withers

  • Trop, J. Gendenjamts, B, Enkhbat, D, Ganbold, S, Bat-Erdene, U, Doripurev, D, Bayalag, M, Withers, M. Postpartum depression in Mongolia: A qualitative exploration of health care providers’ perspectives. Midwifery, 65:18-25, 2018.
  • Withers, M, Kharazmi, N, Lim, E. Traditional beliefs and practices during pregnancy, childbirth, and the post-partum period in Asian countries. Midwifery, 56:158-170, 2018.
  • Tavrow, P, Bloom, B, Withers, M. Intimate partner violence screening practices in California after passage of the Affordable Care Act. Violence Against Women,23(7):871-886, 2017.

Overview of public health concepts and issues, including population health; ethics; health disparities, determinants, and systems of care; global health; policy; health promotion; environmental health.

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Introduction to the application of strategies and tools for practice in public health, including policy advocacy, leadership and management, program planning and evaluation, health communication.

Prerequisite: PM 502

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Examines quality assessment at different levels of the health care system including health plans, physicians, hospital and integrated system performance.

Prerequisite: PM 502

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Overview of program implementation challenges in global health contexts, including best practices for establishing effective cross-cultural collaborations, working with key leaders, and operationalizing complex interventions.

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Historical development of the American health care system; determinants of health care utilization; role of health care providers; health policy; public health services; and health care finance.

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Concepts of biostatistics; appropriate uses and common misuses of health statistics; practice in the application of statistical procedures; introduction to statistical software including EXCEL, SPSS, nQuery. Laboratory.

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Terminology/uses of epidemiology and demography; sources/uses of population data; types of epidemiologic studies; risk assessment; common sources of bias in population studies; principles of screening. Recommended preparation: algebra

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Design, conduct, and interpretation of results of clinical trials; emphasis on principles affecting structure, size, duration of a trial, and the impact of ethical and practical considerations.

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Survey of natural history of infectious disease, methods of disease control and outbreak investigation, and an overview of the epidemiology of injury.

Prerequisite: PM-512

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Examination of major policy issues in the US health care delivery system to understand policy options in reforming health care and reducing health care disparities.
Prerequisite: PM 508

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Survey of effective community organizing and mobilization efforts in the U.S. and abroad, using participatory, organizational, community empowerment and public-private partnership models.

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Introduction to leadership and management concepts, tools, and practices in the context of domestic and global public health and healthcare delivery settings.

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Current public health issues and research topics relating to 21st century challenges and threats. Lessons learned and best practices to strengthen public health systems and enhance public health readiness and preparedness.

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Definition and chronology of natural and man-made disasters and their effects on the global community. Structure and organization of disaster management systems and the role of humanitarian organizations.

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Ethical principles in the distribution of health resources, conduct of global public health research, and implementation of public health initiatives across different nations, cultures, religions.

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Introduction to the core concepts and methods of planning and implementing health-related programs and research in resource-constrained settings.

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Highlights the complex interactions between global health, law and human rights, emphasizing the use of human rights in public health thinking and practice.

Recommended Preparation: MPH core course work

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Investigates the way health is organized and administered at the global level by integrating students directly into the World Health Assembly (WHA), the decision-making body of the World Health Organization.

Recommended Preparation: PM 578

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Provides the culminating, integrative learning experience for students enrolled in the Master of Public Health program.

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Special topics relevant to the study of selected issues and areas of health behavior research or other aspects of preventive medicine.

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First of three courses in CTR, a discipline that fosters multidirectional integration of basic, patient-oriented and population-based research with long-term goal of improving public health. 

Recommended preparation: PM 510.

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Analysis and interpretation of data to test clinical translational hypotheses.

Prerequisite: PM 612a

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Multidisciplinary approach to clinical and translational research.

Prerequisite: PM 612b

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This course will address the international law and institutions which have developed since World War II for the protection of human rights.


Restriction: Registration open to the following major(s): Gerontology/Juris Doctor, Law, Juris Doctor/Business Administration, Law/Business Taxation, Juris Doctor/Communication Management, Juris Doctor/Communications Management, Law/Economics, Law/International Relations, Juris Doctor/Public Administration, Juris Doctor/Pharmacy, Juris Doctor/Public Policy, Juris Doctor/Political Science, Law/Philosophy, Law/Real Estate Development, Law/Religion, Juris Doctor/Religion and Social Ethics, Law/Social Work

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Introduction to strategies for promoting health and wellness. Includes self monitoring of health risk behavior, goal setting, and behavior changes.

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Introduction to concepts of global health and disease control. Issues of globalization, global governance, emerging diseases, infectious disease treatment, and outbreak challenges.

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Intermediate statistics for health behavior studies; topics include descriptive statistics, hypothesis testing, correlation and regression, and use of computer software in data analysis.
General Education: This course satisfies the university’s general education requirement.

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Introduction to the design, conduct and evaluation of health behavior research studies; quantitative and qualitative approaches to research and analysis. 

Recommended preparation: HP 340L

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Case study examination of programs and organizational structure underlying current international efforts addressing problems related to infection disease, chronic disease, global environmental change, emergencies and emerging disease epidemics.

Prerequisite: HP 270

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This online course gives an understanding of how drones are being used in public health, emergency response and related fields. It serves as an introduction to government agencies and other organizations interested in utilizing drones to improve their operations.

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