The Department of Public Health pursues an agenda of research, education, and clinical treatment in Public Health and provides consultative support services in research methodology and clinical and research ethics.
The Department faculty conducts research to improve the delivery of health care in this country and around the world and collaborates with colleagues to develop and evaluate programs for preventing and treating illness. Main areas of interest are patient quality/safety, assessment of medical practices/technologies, costs and allocation of resources, planning for public health crises, clinical and research ethics, preventive programs, and health care delivery options at the clinical and hospital level.
Education and Training Programs
Department members are integrally involved in a wide variety of educational initiatives in the Weill Cornell Medical College and the Graduate School of Medical Sciences, at the fellowship level, with CME, and through faculty training programs. Important educational activities are also conducted at affiliate institutions and through collaborative local and global programs. The Department teaches courses in the Medical School and in the M.S. in Clinical Investigation in the Clinical and Translational Science Center/Graduate School, and the Division of Quality and Medical Informatics now also offers a Certificate Program in Health Information Technology and a Master of Science in Health Informatics.
The Department’s Division of Community and Public Health Programs operates programs for opioid dependency, a PTSD program for combat veterans, and an employee assistance program. Clinical faculty of the Division of Medical Ethics direct a clinical Ethics Consultation Service at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center to assist clinicians, patients, and their families in assessing and resolving ethical issues that arise from clinical practice. Other Department faculty provide clinical services as well, through their role as physicians in CIMA and on the clinics and floors at NYPH. The Department also collaborates on practice organization, quality improvement, patient safety, and clinical resource utilization.
The Department directly serves clinical and laboratory investigators. The Division of Biostatistics and Epidemiology provides statistical and epidemiological support by means of long-term plans with Departments in the Medical Center, through its Biostatistics and Research Methodology Core, and through the Medical College’s Clinical and Translational Science Center (CTSC). The Department’s Cornell Analytic/Consulting Service provides these services to outside healthcare organizations.
The Division of Medical Ethics provides consultative services to researchers as well as to patients and their family members. Its Research Ethics Consultation Service helps clinical researchers design and implement studies ethically. The clinical Ethics Consultation Service in NYPH helps patients and families resolve ethical issues surrounding medical care decisions.
In order to pursue its broad agenda and to provide homes for its multi-disciplinary faculty, the Department has been organized into seven integrated divisions.
Division of Biostatistics and Epidemiology
The Division supports design and analysis of a variety of clinical and translational research projects at the medical college and serves as an academic home for biostatistics and epidemiology. It also initiates original epidemiologic studies and develops novel statistical research methods. Division personnel train students, faculty, and staff in the medical college and affiliated institutions in statistical and epidemiological methodology and software.
Division of Community and Public Health Programs
The Division operates clinics for opioid dependency and provides other mental health services, including services for combat veterans with PTSD. Faculty members conduct research in integrated treatment for patients with both substance abuse problems and hepatitis C or mental health issues, as well as lab-based research in infectious disease vaccine development. They also organize community outreach and educational efforts to improve public health in underserved areas of New York City.
Division of Health Policy
This Division studies the efficient and equitable allocation of scarce health care resources, focusing on health care technology assessment and comparative effectiveness, cost-effectiveness of medical treatments and public health initiatives, disparities in treatment and preventive care, financing and reimbursement, and incentives for implementation of evidence-based practice.
Division of Medical Ethics
This joint division in the Departments of Public Health and Medicine conducts research in medical ethics, provides ethics consultations, and supports the IRB in the ethical conduct of research. Areas of scholarship include: methods of moral problem-solving; the process of clinical ethics consultation; the ethics of clinical decision-making; ethical issues in research, especially neuropsychiatric research questions; research and advocacy to improve diagnosis and treatment of brain-injured patients, especially minimally conscious patients; transcultural bioethics; and the integration of ethics into health services, outcomes, and policy research.
Division of Outcomes and Effectiveness Research
This Division focuses on comparative effectiveness research related to the healthcare delivery system. Some faculty compare different ways of organizing physicians and hospitals and of paying them, and processes leading to better patient experience, higher quality of care, and control of health care costs. Others lead the Weill Cornell Comparative Effectiveness Research program and pursue comparative effectiveness research related to drugs, devices, and procedures. Division research also concerns health system preparedness in responding to potential public health emergencies, including disease outbreaks such as influenza, and bioterrorism and natural disasters.
Division of Prevention and Health Behavior
This Division aims to promote health and prevent diseases associated with unhealthy behaviors. It conducts research on behaviors that contribute to major illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, and diabetes, and develops programs that encourage children and adolescents to make healthy lifestyle choices. With its focus on translational research, the division investigates how best to implement and disseminate effective programs to prevent smoking and alcohol and drug abuse. Faculty also study health system factors that may interfere with optimal medical treatment of cardiovascular disease.
Division of Quality and Medical Informatics
The mission of this joint Division in the Departments of Pediatrics and Public Health is to improve the quality and cost of healthcare, particularly through the use of health information technology (health IT). Faculty are involved in major projects to evaluate health IT initiatives, the cost-effectiveness of health IT applications, and healthcare delivery systems. The division houses the Health Information Technology Evaluation Collaborative (HITEC), a formal academic collaborative recognized and funded by New York State for evaluating HEAL NY, a statewide Health IT program. It served as a catalyst for the formation of the Center for Healthcare Informatics and Policy (CHIP), an interdisciplinary and multi-departmental initiative established by Weill Cornell Medical College in recognition of the importance of this field.
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