The ancient Greeks understood the vital connection between treating disease and preventing it. Their mythology reflected this: Asklepios, the Greek God of medicine, had two daughters: Panacea – the Goddess of treatment, and Hygiea – the Goddess of prevention.
At UC Davis Health System, the fundamental link between treating and preventing disease and disability is at the heart of our mission to discover and share knowledge to improve health. For every medical breakthrough we achieve, we translate that new knowledge into practical action by delivering effective treatments to vulnerable populations, formulating sound health policies and practices, and preventing disease and injury in the communities we serve and beyond.
Take, for instance, a person who has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, a rare form of lung cancer. Our physicians provide the patient with the latest, most advanced treatments available while they investigate the how and why to help identify prevention strategies. In this issue of UC Davis Medicine, you will read about how our work in this area helped a community near Sacramento address their risk for this cancer.
UC Davis Health System has had a nearly four-decade commitment to the health of our communities, as evidenced in the creation of our Department of Public Health Sciences in 1968 under the Community Health name. Faculty have been active in assessing community health issues, such as conditions faced by migrant agricultural workers. Today, we are a leader in identifying and addressing the problems these workers and their families face.
In 2002, the School of Medicine and the School of Veterinary Medicine jointly launched a master's degree program in public health. This year, I was honored to present 11 M.P.H. degrees at our graduation ceremony in June.
The joint M.P.H. program is one of the many ways we collaborate with our colleagues throughout the university on public health programs. In this issue, you will read about "the gang of four," made up of two physicians and two veterinarians, who are working with government officials, health-care providers and community groups to address the avian flu threat. Similarly, our faculty work with fellow researchers at the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences on public concerns from West Nile virus and E. coli contamination to nutrition and environmental health.
We also team up with local and state leaders to foster healthy communities. We collaborate with the California Department of Health Services on epidemiology projects, joint research centers, and fellowship and internship opportunities. We work closely with local health departments to coordinate efforts on disaster preparedness and infectious disease outbreaks and work with neighborhood groups to help create a healthy environment in which children can develop.
These partnerships are important because it takes a coordinated team of clinicians, public health practitioners, academic researchers, policymakers and community groups to advance the health of our communities.
The 2004 UC Public Health Workforce Report found that the demand from new public health threats and changing demographics has resulted in a public health workforce in California that is deficient in size, scope and quality.
The report recommended that a new school be established and that the existing schools expand enrollment. UC Davis is a logical home for the new school of public health and, with the strong foundation that we have developed in public health, it can quickly become a rising star.
As you can tell, I am excited about a School of Public Health at UC Davis. Together, we will be able to discover and share new ways to improve the health and well-being of California's citizens.