Dr. Julie Kornfeld Leaves Legacy of Leadership in Master of Public Health Programs

Julie Kornfeld, Ph.D., M.P.H., Director of Public Health Programs in the Department of Public Health Sciences and Assistant Dean for Public Health at the Miller School of Medicine, has been named Vice Dean for Education at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. In that role, she will have oversight for all of the school’s doctoral and master’s programs. After nearly 25 years at UM in several key positions, Kornfeld will begin her term at Columbia in January 2016.

As Director of the various Master of Public Health Programs in the Department of Public Health Sciences, Kornfeld has led notable efforts to transform the Department’s educational programs to prepare the next generation of public health leaders. In collaboration with Medical Education, she led the Department’s effort to establish what has become the nation’s largest integrated four-year dual M.D./M.P.H. program.

“Dr. Kornfeld has made a huge contribution to the Miller School,” said Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., Senior Vice President for Medical Affairs and Dean of the Miller School of Medicine and CEO of UHealth. “Her efforts with the Master of Public Health Programs have been nothing short of outstanding. Fully 25 percent of each class now selects the M.D./M.P.H. degree track. She launched the program with 52 students in the first class and increased enrollment by 200 percent in the next two years.

“There is not another medical school in the country that can make that claim, and we are very proud of our graduates who go on to transform lives in a public health setting. Dr. Kornfeld’s hard work has been critical to our achievement.”

“Dr. Kornfeld’s contributions as Assistant Dean for Public Health have been substantive and important,” said Laurence B. Gardner, M.D., Miller Professor of Medicine and Executive Dean for Education and Policy. “In addition to her pioneering efforts in the combined degree program, she has been instrumental in enriching the public health experience for the traditional M.D. track students as we move into the new era of health care delivery and population medicine.”

A national search will be conducted for a Director of the combined degree programs. Until a successor to Kornfeld is found, two part-time interim appointments have been made, effective January 1, 2016.

Hermes J. Florez, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H., professor of public health sciences and medicine, and Chief of the Division of Epidemiology, has been named interim Director of the M.D./M.P.H. Program. Florez, who also serves as Director of the Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center at the Miami Veterans Affairs Medical Center, is nationally known for his multidisciplinary approach to public health in the clinical context

Eric Hecht, M.D., Ph.D., M.S.P.H., a member of the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center and voluntary associate professor of public health sciences, has been named interim Deputy Director of the M.D./M.P.H. Program. His research focuses on the epidemiology of chronic disease.

Kornfeld has worked to create a curriculum that merges the competencies of both a physician and a public health professional and aims to graduate physicians with the skills to solve complex problems facing local and global communities. From 2010-2015, Kornfeld also served as the Co-Principal Investigator on a five-year HRSA educational development grant that supported the development of the public health physician curriculum. She has published 17 articles in juried professional journals and given 24 peer-reviewed oral presentations.

“Dr. Kornfeld’s experience in education and program development is matched only by her passion for teaching and mentoring students,” said Jose Szapocznik, Ph.D., Professor and Chair of the Department of Public Health Sciences and Director of the Miami Clinical and Translational Science Institute. “She has taught numerous courses in both the M.D./M.P.H. and M.P.H. programs.

“Dr. Kornfeld has been recognized for her efforts, earning the Outstanding M.P.H. Faculty Member award from the students based on the quality of her teaching and mentoring. We are grateful for her contributions to the University of Miami, the Miller School of Medicine and the Department of Public Health Sciences.”

Before joining the faculty of the Department of Public Health Sciences, Kornfeld served as the Director of the National Cancer Institute’s Cancer Information Service-Coastal Region, an NIH-funded cancer information and education program housed at the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center. She holds both her M.P.H. and Ph.D. in Epidemiology degrees from the Department of Public Health Sciences.

“This is a bittersweet moment for me – I have had incredible mentorship and guidance as both a professional and a student here at UM,” she said. “I have truly loved working to develop the Master of Public Health Programs. From a professional perspective, the decision to move reflects an opportunity for me to build on the incredible work we have done here at UM.”

In June, Florez played an integral role in a White House-led initiative to improve the quality of life and health for aging populations throughout the U.S. He and other Miller School faculty members worked as part of the National Committee on Aging to identify the medical needs and health care issues facing seniors, as well as devise solutions and methods of implementation for assistance programs, outreach services and research studies. Their work focused on areas such as health care policy, healthy aging, physical activity and preventive services.

Hecht’s current interests are cardiovascular disease, toxicology and pharmacology. Recent investigations have included the study of hypertension in the Haitian community, factors that predict traffic-related deaths, useful add-on therapies in the treatment of schizophrenia, an analysis of the physician decision-making process as to whether patients with multiple sclerosis should be screened for PML, and an evaluation regarding the relationship between statin use and decreased physical activity in individuals with hyperlipidemia.

“These tremendously able educators will ensure a smooth transition until a permanent director is appointed,” said Szapocznik

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