Dozier Named Chair of Public Health Sciences

Dec. 15, 2015

Ann Dozier, Ph.D., has been named chair of the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) Department of Public Health Sciences.  Dozier has served as interim chair since July 2014 and will formally be installed as chair on January 1, 2016.

“With her strong commitment to education, research, and community-based outreach, Dr. Dozier is the embodiment of the public health mission,” said Mark Taubman, M.D., CEO of URMC and dean of the School of Medicine and Dentistry.  “I am deeply grateful that she has not only stepped forward to help lead the department these past 18 months, but has now agreed to do so on a permanent basis.”

“The University of Rochester has been my home for the last 40 years and I am honored to be asked to serve this institution and the Department of Public Health Sciences,” said Dozier.  “The fundamental changes in health care that have been set in motion over the last several years represent an opportunity to assess and ultimately improve the delivery and quality of care, and I look forward to working with the Medical Center leadership, faculty, and community partners to meet these challenges.”

Dozier’s research and fieldwork focuses on maternal and child health, with an emphasis on improving breastfeeding among low income women and reducing infant mortality.  The scope of her work entails identifying barriers to improving maternal child health, evaluating and identifying the most effective ways to overcome these challenges, and working with providers and other health and human service organizations to promote the adoption of best practices and improve outcomes on a community-wide scale.  While much of her current work focuses on underserved communities in Rochester and New York State, Dozier has also been a collaborator on public health projects in Costa Rica, India, Grenada, the Dominican Republic, and Tibet.

The Department of Community and Preventive Medicine – which was renamed Public Health Sciences in 2012 – was established as a component of the School of Medicine and Dentistry in 1955 in the wake of the development of a vaccine for polio and the national recognition of the importance of population-scale health interventions.  Out of this experience the academic discipline now recognized as “public health” began to emerge. 

Over the years, the department expanded its research and educational programs and today consists of four divisions – Epidemiology, Social and Behavioral Sciences, Health Policy and Outcomes Research, and Healthcare Management – with 21 full-time primary faculty and 50 secondary faculty.   More than 100 students are enrolled in the department’s two doctoral and three masters programs.  A new master’s program in Epidemiology has been approved for enrollment beginning in September 2016 and the department recently established five new certificate programs. Public Health Sciences faculty also support the University’s undergraduate major in Public Health.   

The department attracts an average of approximately $6 million in external research funding annually which funds investigations across a broad spectrum of public health, including obesity in children, smoking cessation, cardiovascular disease, cancer screening and prevention, the impact of environmental exposures on child development, the health impact of pollution, and maternal and infant health, along with studies that inform health policy and health care decision-making.  

The mission of the department has taken on new importance since the adoption of the federal Affordable Care Act and the accompanying focus on the quality of care, controlling costs, and population-scale health management.

One of the areas that Dozier intends to expand is the collaboration between Public Health Sciences faculty and clinical departments to evaluate and improve care through the application of analytics.  The growing adoption of electronic health records – along with the traditional sets of Medicare, Medicaid, and nursing home data that have long been used by department faculty – and the University’s emphasis on data science present a unique opportunity to reshape health care delivery and policy. 

“Dr. Dozier has the expertise and skills to successfully lead the Department of Public Health Sciences across its many research and educational activities and to help shape the overall vision for public health research across the Medical Center,” said Jeffrey Lyness, M.D., URMC senior associate dean of Academic Affairs and head of the Public Health Sciences chair search committee.“In addition to her experiences as a scientist, teacher, and clinician, she is passionate about such work and has the ability to build teams, develop consensus, and collaborate broadly across the institution.”

The other members of the search committee included Theodore Brown, Ph.D., Laurent Glance, M.D., Dina Markowitz, Ph.D., Karen Mustian, Ph.D., M.P.H., Sally Norton, Ph.D., R.N., Robert Panzer, M.D., and Robert Strawderman, Sc.D.  Dozier’s appointment is pending the approval of the University of Rochester Board of Trustees.

Dozier received her B.S. (1977) Ph.D. (1996) in Nursing from the University of Rochester.  She joined the  URMC faculty in 1999.