The Department of Population Health Sciences traces its beginnings to 1899, one year after the founding of Cornell University Medical College. Then known as the Department of Hygiene and Sanitary Science, it was created to enhance undergraduate education in hygiene and address the growing demands of public health. In 1927, its name was changed to the Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine to better reflect its mission. Anticipating current healthcare concerns, the Department was instrumental in the incorporation of preventive medicine and community insight in clinical practice at the medical college.
In 1960, the Department consolidated its name to the Department of Public Health while maintaining its focus on the sociological components of medicine. By the 1990s, the Department held an increasingly important role in support of healthcare institutions and strengthened its research and academics through expanded recruitment of new faculty.
After more than a century of shaping public health in the U.S., the Department shifted its concentration to the study and improvement of healthcare delivery. In 2014, it completed its transformation into the Department of Population Health Sciences under the inaugural leadership of Dr. Rainu Kaushal.
The Department works to address the urgent challenges in 21st century U.S. healthcare — among them, unsustainably rising costs and spending, uneven access, variable quality, and socioeconomic disparities. By building upon existing faculty and research strengths, the Department will continue to develop depth and breadth in healthcare knowledge, delivery, and policy — a cornerstone of healthcare reform.
The Department is organized into five interconnected divisions supported by the Data Core: