The Graduate School of Public Health is one of 17 schools at the University of Pittsburgh. The school, founded in 1948, was first led by Thomas Parran, surgeon general of the U.S. Public Health Service. It is ranked as the 13th best public health school in the United States by US News and World Report. In addition, it is ranked third among public health schools for funding received from the National Institutes of Health. It was the first of only two fully accredited schools of public health in Pennsylvania . The school offers Masters of Public Health and doctoral degrees in areas such as behavioral and community health sciences, biostatistics, environmental and occupational health, epidemiology, health policy and management, human genetics, and infectious disease and microbiology.
A desire by Pittsburgh residents to better understand the health risks from pollution released from the city's many steel mills in the early 20th century led to the creation of Pitt's Graduate School of Public Health in 1948 with a $13.6 million grant from the A. W. Mellon Educational and Charitable Trust. Originating in the renovated former Municipal Hospital, now Salk Hall, the school was accredited on April 6, 1950, and admitted its first class of 29 full-time and 5 part-time students in September 1950. The school moved into a new facility, now named Parran Hall, completed for it in 1957. The school's first dean, Thomas Parran, had previously founded the World Health Organization and served for twelve years as Surgeon General of the United States. Parran guided the early development of the school and recruited many of its prominent early faculty. An early focus of the school was occupational and industrial health and hygiene in the steel mills of Pittsburgh. These studies, and Pitt Public Health investigations of black lung among coal miners, strongly influenced the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 which, based mostly on school generated data, created the first national standards for on-the-job worker safety and health. Although the scope of the school has greatly broadened, this theme of research has continued throughout the years with significant implications including, among other things, information on the hazards of asbestos. Pitt Public Health has become one of the top schools for sponsored research funding. It has also pioneered research directions: it the first school of public health to have a department of human genetics; it had the first and only public health school chair in minority health; and played a critical role in understanding diseases such as AIDS for which it initiated the longest-running national study of the natural history of the disease. It continues to maintain strong relationships with regional and national government agencies such as the Allegheny County Health Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and has produced over 5,000 alumni in its 60 years of history.
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