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New Dean Named for UT Houston School of Public Health
Roberta B. Ness, M.D., M.P.H. to succeed Guy S. Parcel, Ph.D.
Roberta B. Ness, M.D., M.P.H., a distinguished researcher, educator and physician who specializes in women's health, has been named dean of The University of Texas School of Public Health, effective Nov. 1, 2008.
James T. Willerson, M.D., president of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, announced Ness' appointment May 31. Ness, professor and current chair of the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh, will succeed Guy S. Parcel, Ph.D., who has led the UT School of Public Health since 2005.
"The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and the State of Texas are indeed fortunate that Dr. Roberta Ness has accepted the critical leadership position of dean of the School of Public Health," Willerson said. "She brings both very significant accomplishments and proven leadership achievements that will elevate our outstanding School of Public Health to even higher levels of excellence benefiting the entire state." Ness will be responsible for furthering the school's mission to improve and sustain the health of people by providing the highest quality graduate education, research and community service locally, nationally and internationally. The UT School of Public Health is the oldest, accredited school of public health in Texas and has produced more than 4,800 graduates since its first class in 1969. Its main campus in the Texas Medical Center offers four degree programs, and it has five regional campuses in Brownsville, San Antonio, Austin, Dallas and El Paso.
"It is with the greatest enthusiasm that I undertake the deanship of the outstanding University of Texas School of Public Health," Ness said. "Given the public health challenges facing the state, nation and world, I plan to energetically lead the school to find novel solutions and inform public policy."
Ness earned her medical degree from Cornell University and her master of public health degree in epidemiology at Columbia University School of Public Health. She taught at Columbia and the University of Pennsylvania before joining the faculty in 1993 at the University of Pittsburgh, where she has held numerous leadership positions. She has been chair of the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health since 2003 where she also directs the Epidemiology of Women's Health Program. She also has served as director of the university's Cancer Epidemiology Program and was interim dean of the School of Public Health from 2005-2006. During the last 14 years, Ness has served on the faculty in the departments of Medicine and Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.
Ness, president-elect of the American College of Epidemiology and the Society for General Internal Medicine's 2008 Distinguished Professor of Women's Health, is an accomplished researcher who has authored more than 200 publications. She is currently researching novel risk factors and potential early detection markers for ovarian cancer; pesticides and infant neuropsychological development; neonatal health and maternal cardiovascular risk; and risk markers for endometriosis among active duty women in the U.S. military, as well as leading other clinical trials related to the health of women and children.
"I am very pleased that Dr. Ness will serve as the fourth dean of the UT School of Public Health," said Parcel, the John P. McGovern Professor in Health Promotion and holder of the M. David Low Chair in Public Health. "She has an outstanding record as an academic leader and through her research has made critical contributions to advancing the knowledge for improving public health. I am confident that she will provide the leadership to move the school forward to reach its potential as one of the premier schools of public health."
Parcel joined the faculty at the UT School of Public Health in 1986. During his tenure as dean, he worked to establish a graduate certificate in public health, the UT School of Public Health Austin Regional Campus and the George McMillan Fleming Center for Healthcare Management. After a sabbatical, Parcel plans to remain on the faculty as professor in the Division of Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences.
By Meredith Raine, Institutional Advancement
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