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To the Mailman School community,

Dr. Charles BranasIt gives me great pleasure to announce the appointment of the new Chair of the Department of Epidemiology, Dr. Charles Branas. Dr. Branas comes to us from the University of Pennsylvania, where he is Professor of Epidemiology in the Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology and a Senior Scholar in the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics in the Perelman School of Medicine. He begins his promising career as a leader, an administrator, and a senior scientist at the Mailman School on January 1, 2017.

Through his innovative scholarship, Dr. Branas draws on multiple areas of epidemiology to improve health, focusing on injury epidemiology, gun violence, substance abuse, and cardiovascular disease. His research extends from urban and rural areas in the United States to communities around the world, incorporating place-based interventions and human geography. I am confident his work will complement the existing intellectual assets of a very strong department.

Dr. Branas has spent a number of years using epidemiology to help us better understand some of the most intractable public health issues, such as gun violence. In a landmark study published in 2004, he analyzed mortality from firearms across all counties in the United States, highlighting the importance of firearm suicides, which chiefly occur in rural areas and outnumber firearm homicides, which are more common in urban areas. This research was later cited by the U.S. Supreme Court in a landmark opinion that reinforced the idea that gun violence is a major public health problem across the country, not only in major cities. Dr. Branas has also produced epidemiology of action to reduce gun violence and other health problems, leading randomized controlled trials of place-based interventions to improve thousands of vacant lots and abandoned buildings in multiple U.S. cities.

Dr. Branas received his PhD from the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins and completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health. He currently directs the Penn Urban Health Lab, the Penn Injury Science Center, and the Guatemala-Penn Partners program, and serves as a senior fellow for the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Additionally, he has served on numerous boards and scientific panels, including roles at the Centers for Disease Control, the National Institutes of Health, the American Trauma Society, and the American Public Health Association. He is also an elected member of the American Epidemiological Society and a past President of the Society for Advancement of Violence and Injury Research.

Throughout his research career, Dr. Branas has demonstrated that epidemiology should seek solutions to our most pressing health problems and that the field can have a direct impact on policymakers and the public. As he relocates to the Mailman School, I look forward to the insight and leadership that Dr. Branas will bring to our prestigious Department of Epidemiology.

It is also time to express gratitude to Dr. Guohua Li for his service as Interim Chair. Under the leadership of this truly prolific colleague, the Department earned a remarkable number of new grants to continue supporting its groundbreaking science, funding in excess of $24 million. Thank you, Dr. Li, for your leadership and dedication over the last two years.

In addition to thanking Dr. Li, we will celebrate Dr. Branas’ arrival and we expect to announce his formal title in a few weeks. I look forward to your getting to know him and welcoming him to the Mailman School.


Linda P. Fried, MD, MPH

Dean and DeLamar Professor of Public Health
Mailman School of Public Health
Senior Vice President
Columbia University Medical Center
Professor of Epidemiology and Medicine