Family News: Winter 2016


Welcome to the Winter 2016 issue of the Family News, a resource designed to keep the PopFam Family—students, faculty, alumni, and friends—informed about the latest developments in our Department including our teaching, service, and research efforts.

This issue highlights our work in sexual and reproductive health and rights at a complicated time in the United States. The past year included a sizable increase in federal funding for ineffective abstinence-only-until-marriage programs and the passage of highly restrictive state laws that threaten to negate abortion rights by placing burdens on clinics that force them to close, particularly in Texas where such a law is slated to be considered by the Supreme Court in March. These laws, the continuing and especially deceitful attacks on Planned Parenthood, and violence and intimidation against abortion providers and clinic staff, including the recent Colorado Springs shooting that left three people dead, are undermining women’s access to reproductive health care. This is particularly true for young women and women of lower socio-economic status.

At the same time—and in this tough climate—our country has also made real progress: we have witnessed major advances in marriage equality, and greater visibility and dialogue around issues of gender identity and discrimination. And the recent indictment by a grand jury in Texas of the individuals involved in making secret recordings of Planned Parenthood staff are cause for some renewed faith in justice.

I am buoyed by these developments and by the work we are doing in PopFam to contribute to them. As David L Bell, MD, MPH, explains in our feature article, young women have long been considered the gatekeepers when it comes to preventing teen pregnancy. Fortunately, due in large part to the long-term efforts, this is changing. Through a new and groundbreaking funding stream, Dr. Bell and colleagues will test a strategy for working with young men to prevent unplanned pregnancies.

Our faculty spotlight focuses on Samantha Garbers, PhD, who has a fascinating history of using technology to connect underserved populations with sexual and reproductive health information and has several new projects in the works. Our practicum spotlight continues this focus exploring the work of Alissa Nulsen, MPH, MSW '16 on the development of a sex education app that aims to deliver comprehensive and reliable information to young people.

While this issue focuses a good deal on our domestic work, it also highlights our global efforts to promote sexual and reproductive health. I encourage you to read the alumni interview with Jessie Clyde, MPH ‘07, a senior program officer at IWHC (International Women’s Health Coalition), who has worked for years to increase access to comprehensive sexuality education and health services in countries across the globe; to learn about the work that Sara Casey, MPH, 02, our DrPH student spotlight, has been doing to bring reproductive health care to humanitarian settings; and to read about a truly remarkable new volume, co-edited by Terry McGovern, JD, on the history of the global women’s movement.

Finally, I hope you will check out the article highlighting the “Sexuality, Sexual and Reproductive Health” Certificate, which is domestic and international in its focus, and is co-led by our own Marina Catallozzi, MD.

I am so pleased to share this issue of the Family News with you and I hope you enjoy it.



John S. Santelli, MD, MPH
Chair, Heilbrunn Department of Population and Family Health
Harriet and Robert H. Heilbrunn Professor of Population and Family Health and Pediatrics

Please consider supporting PopFam’s students by making a gift to the Lynne Loomis-Price Fund. Each contribution is a promise to help us end healthcare disparities and a tribute to those who have dedicated their lives to our mission. Funds are used to help second-year students with unexpected financial needs. Gifts can be made online at Please make all checks payable to Columbia University with the memo line Lynne Loomis-Price Fund and mail to: Mailman School of Public Health, 722 West 168th Street, 14th Floor, New York, NY 10032.



Ruth Mayer

Jennifer Heitel, MPH
Director of Special Projects

John Santelli, MD, MPH
Chair and Heilbrunn Professor of
Population and Family Health and Pediatrics