The risk of developing diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes are attributable to a complex combination of factors such as diet, physical activity patterns, and environmental factors, combined with genetic factors. The provision of adequate health care and preventive measures in an environment fraught with health disparities has become a formidable challenge. Traditionally, public health is understood to implicate the critical functions of state and local public health departments such as preventing epidemics, containing environmental hazards, and encouraging healthy behaviors. Population health encompasses traditional public health, but emphasizes the full range of the health of individuals. Unlike traditional public health promotion or health education approaches that often target individual risk factors, population health intervention research looks further upstream at policies and barriers that affect the capacity for whole populations to make change. Population health intervention research is not just about evaluating a specific program aimed at individuals; it looks at the broader policy framework within which an intervention is developed; it is the whole context. It seeks to step beyond the individual level focus of mainstream medicine and public health by addressing a broad range of factors that impact health on a population-level; such as environment, social structure, and resource distribution. The Ph.D. program in Population Health will provide education and experiential opportunities to students who will become engaged researchers, going on to lead efforts to meet the health needs of the population and ending health disparities.
Because population health is inclusive, our program will emphasize interdisciplinary and team science, with a solid base of research methods; followed by one of three concentrations: 1) Nutritional epidemiology; 2) social determinants of health; and 3) health services research and policy. Students will have the ability to tailor the program to their interests through selection of interdisciplinary faculty dissertation committees.
In line with Northeastern University’s mission to educate students for a life of fulfillment and accomplishment, this program will give students a skill set that allows them to address population health issues in a more holistic, multidisciplinary way, using team science approaches. Additionally, the mission of Northeastern University to create and translate knowledge to meet global and societal needs will come to full fruition with a Ph.D. program that creates the next leaders in research whose work results in applicable solutions to improving the health of populations.
Katherine L Tucker