Campus: San Diego State University -- March 15, 2005

New SDSU Public Health Program to Study Global Emergency Preparedness and Response

First Class of Students to Start in Fall 2005

San Diego State University announced today that its Graduate School of Public Health will offer a new master of science degree specialization this fall designed to produce public health leaders specifically trained to protect communities and respond to the unique health threats posed by disease outbreaks, acts of terrorism or massive natural disasters.

The new program, called Global Emergency Preparedness and Response, is accepting applications for its first class of 10 students. Marilyn Newhoff, dean of SDSU's College of Health and Human Services, said growing demand from the public health community for more specialized training led to the development of the program.

"Devastation caused by terrorist acts or by widespread disasters such as the December 26, 2004 tsunami have shown how complicated and challenging it is for health professionals to help people during these situations," Newhoff said. "There is a consensus among many health-related leaders to build a stronger public health workforce that not only can respond to large disasters requiring multidisciplinary and massive response on an immediate and long-term basis, but also can detect potential threats before they become big problems."

Graduates of the program will have an in-depth understanding of a variety of relevant areas, including design and analysis of epidemiologic data, agents linked to bioterrorism, the roles of hospitals and public health agencies in disaster preparedness, disease surveillance and control, applying public health behavior concepts in sensitive cultural situations, border health issues, environmental detection technology, public health law and homeland security issues.

Louise Gresham, associate research professor in the Graduate School of Public Health and coordinator for the Global Emergency Preparedness and Response program, said the program is relevant for an array of health workers.

"We expect this program will draw strong interest from current or potential employees of federal, state and local health agencies, international health agencies and NGOs (non-government organizations), private consultants and military personnel," said Gresham.

Students in the program will be required to complete 36 units (about 12 courses) including mandatory subjects such as Border and Global Public Health Surveillance and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response, as well as electives ranging from Environmental and Disaster Medicine to Sensor Networks. Students must maintain a 3.0 GPA. Gresham said she expects students on average to complete the program within two to three years.

"This program will be a big help for the local public health community and beyond," said Nancy Bowen, MD, San Diego County Public Health Officer. "It addresses the changing needs in the public health environment related to preparedness."

This is the second straight year SDSU has launched a new graduate degree program focusing on workforce needs related to homeland security. In 2004, SDSU launched a multidisciplinary master's degree program with an emphasis in homeland security that features courses from several different colleges. Twenty-eight students are enrolled in the program, 12 of whom are expected to complete it by the end of this summer.

Students interested in the Global Emergency Preparedness and Response program are encouraged to apply before Aug. 1, 2005, for Fall 2005 admission. For more information about the program, contact Florencia Davis, College of Health and Human Services, at (619) 594-2743 or email More information on the program also is available at

The Graduate School of Public Health (GSPH) at SDSU was founded in 1980. It is one of four nationally accredited schools of public health in California. The GSPH provides many opportunities for education, research, and community involvement to advance the state of knowledge in different health disciplines and to improve the population's health. The GSPH enjoys special collaborative arrangements with the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency, and other local, regional, and national health organizations.

Contact: Jason Foster,, SDSU Marketing & Communications, (619) 594-2585

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