Public Release: 

Ben-Gurion U. announces new School of Public Health and U. Michigan partnership

American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

BEER-SHEVA, ISRAEL and ANN ARBOR, MI...October 10, 2017 -- Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) recently announced the establishment of the School of Public Health in the Faculty of Health Sciences (FOHS) in Beer-Sheva, Israel as well as the expansion of its partnership in collaborative research with the University of Michigan School of Public Health (UM-SPH) in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

The new BGU School of Public Health aims to promote and enhance the quality of life in the Negev, Israel and around the world, and will focus on excellence in public health education, research and service. The BGU-UM public health partnership was originally established in 2013 to bring two institutions with strong public health track records together to advance public health.

"Creating the school is one of the flagship projects of the Faculty of Health Sciences," says Prof. Amos Katz, M.D., FOHS dean. "The new school and expanded UM partnership will advance and empower the research activities in the public health field, strengthen ties internationally and advance public health teaching while attracting students from Israel and abroad."

The BGU School of Public Health emerged from its departments and faculty with expertise in epidemiology, biostatistics, health policy and management, gerontology, disaster management, and the sociology of health. Academic areas that will participate include the Center for Multidisciplinary Research in Aging, Center for Environmental Epidemiology Research and the S. Daniel Abraham International Center for Health and Nutrition.

Prof. Amos Katz has named Prof. Nadav Davidovitch, chair of BGU's Department of Health Systems Management in the FOHS and Guilford Glazer Faculty of Business and Management, to head the school. Prof. Davidovitch is a physician specializing in epidemiology, public health and health policy. He is head of the Association of Public Health Doctors in the Israeli Medical Association and a member of the executive committee of the European Association of Public Health.

Prof. Davidovitch says, "Based in the Negev area of Israel, the school is deeply embedded in the local community, committed to the development of Israel's southern periphery. The area's diverse population -- which includes kibbutz members, Bedouin villagers and city residents -- presents a unique social fabric and an exciting opportunity to develop public health interventions with wide global applications."

Prof. Natalya Bilenko, M.D., Ph.D, director of the graduate program in public health, will assist Davidovich in running the school.

Expanded BGU-UM Initiatives

As part of the expanded UM-BGU partnership, faculty members and graduate students from BGU and UM will participate in collaborative research on a wide range of public health topics that include: control of emerging and reemerging infectious diseases; health care delivery in poor communities; the effects of pollution on health; maternal and child health; and more. Other collaborative initiatives include international conferences on these and other public health issues, mentorship and exchange programs, merit scholarships and fellowships, and visiting scholar programs.

The partnership grew out of the efforts of UM-SPH's then-dean, Prof. Martin Philbert, and Prof. Arnold Monto, M.D., UM director of the Israel Public Health Initiative, as part of UM-SPH's goals to expand the school's global reach in 2013. Since then, the UM-BGU relationship has funded joint research projects on HIV prevention, influenza vaccine efficacy in health care workers, issues with polio vaccinations, as well as student exchanges and other interdisciplinary initiatives.

According to UM-SPH Interim Dean Cathleen Connell, "Michigan Public Health has had a productive relationship with BGU. Our joint forum that took place in Ann Arbor this summer set the agenda for expanded training and research, which will benefit both institutions. With the formation of their new public health school, we look forward to an even stronger global health collaboration."

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About American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (AABGU) plays a vital role in sustaining David Ben-Gurion's vision: creating a world-class institution of education and research in the Israeli desert, nurturing the Negev community and sharing the University's expertise locally and around the globe. As Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) looks ahead to turning 50 in 2020, AABGU imagines a future that goes beyond the walls of academia. It is a future where BGU invents a new world and inspires a vision for a stronger Israel and its next generation of leaders. Together with supporters, AABGU will help the University foster excellence in teaching, research and outreach to the communities of the Negev for the next 50 years and beyond. Visit vision.aabgu.org to learn more.

AABGU is headquartered in Manhattan and has nine regional offices throughout the United States. For more information, contact the Great Lakes regional office at 847-983-3630, greatlakes@aabgu.org or visit http://www.aabgu.org.

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