Era ending at School of Public Health

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Dean Barry R. Bloom to step down at end of academic year

Barry R. Bloom
, dean of the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), yesterday announced
that he will be stepping down from his position as the
School’s leader at the end of the current academic year.

Bloom, the Joan L. and Julius H. Jacobson Professor of Public Health, became
dean of HSPH on January 1, 1999. During a period marked by
globalization and profound changes in science and technology, Bloom has
led initiatives to keep HSPH at the frontier of scientific discovery
and interdisciplinary innovation and to extend its leadership in
improving the health of populations around the world.

“For nearly a decade, I have had the enormously rewarding experience
of guiding the world’s most dynamic and rigorous public health research
and teaching enterprise, and I have seen it enter the 21st century with
reinvigorated interdisciplinary research activity, a modernization of
its departments, a rethinking of its curriculum, and solid fiscal
health,” Bloom said. “We enter now a phase of more intensive planning
for an anticipated move to Allston as a central component of the
University’s vision for its future. It is clearly desirable and
necessary that the School have new leadership to take it into its next
phase, so that a new dean can participate both in shaping the plan for
the future and in seeing it through to fruition. This seems like the
right time for me to indicate my plans to step down and allow another
generation of leadership to be engaged.”

Over the next seven months, Bloom plans to focus on firmly
establishing initiatives to carry forward strategic priorities that
have been developed at the School — new active-learning educational
programs and research priorities in the areas of genes and the
environment, quantitative genomics, and global health.

In a letter to
the HSPH community he expressed appreciation for the privilege of
working with “an enormously creative and collegial faculty, a
wonderfully exciting and diverse student body, and an extraordinarily
dedicated staff.” He thanked his academic and administrative deans for
providing “creative energy, advice, and leadership that have made both
change and stability possible,” and he expressed his gratitude for the
constructive advice and criticism offered by colleagues and friends of
the School and for their generous support over the years.

“Barry Bloom has led our School of Public Health with remarkable
vision and devotion,” said Harvard President Drew Faust. “He has
broadened and intensified the School’s international reach as well as
its close engagement with some of the world’s most serious health
challenges. He has worked to strengthen and integrate the School’s
efforts across the sciences and the social sciences, and to pursue
creative connections with other parts of Harvard. He has guided
important initiatives to plan ambitiously for the School’s academic and
physical future, while also building its capacity to attract
outstanding students from around the world. He has done all this with a
passionate concern for the power of the public health enterprise to
improve the lives of people both close to home and abroad.”

From his first days as dean, Bloom announced that financial aid for
students would be his top priority for funding. Over the period of his
deanship, financial aid to students has increased nearly threefold, to
a total of $8.4 million in the current academic year, with substantial
support from the University. In his meetings with students, he has been
consistently inspired by their experiences, dedication, and potential
for leadership — and responsive to their concerns about the need for
financial aid and for better student space in the School. In the past
year, together with Academic Dean James Ware, he has focused attention
on revising the School’s curriculum to include more active learning and
case-based teaching, appointing two new associate deans for education
and providing new resources for the initiative.

Several significant international projects have been implemented
with Bloom’s support and guidance, notably in Africa, India,
China, and the Mediterranean region. In 2004, The Cyprus Institute was
created and an agreement between the institute and School put in place
to provide research, education, and training efforts for the
environment and public health for the Mediterranean region.

In March
2006, Bloom was acknowledged for his key role in developing the concept
for the Public Health Foundation of India. Founded to influence public
health education, research, and policy, the PHFI aims to establish
multiple world-class Indian institutes of public health over time. And
this past summer the HSPH welcomed a delegation of 62 senior health
executives from China for a three-week intensive training program in
health systems leadership as part of the School’s three-pronged China
, which includes the training program, a University-wide
forum, and a series of applied health research projects.

The School’s presence in Africa has expanded to meet the challenges
posed by the HIV/AIDS pandemic and to help guide the outpouring of
resources to address it. Bloom worked to secure funding from the Bill
and Melinda Gates Foundation for the program on AIDS Prevention in
(APIN), emphasizing the importance of coupling prevention with
treatment to address the AIDS crisis. In 2004, in light of its ongoing
efforts to help confront HIV/AIDS in Africa, the School was awarded one
of the President’s Emergency Program for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) grants.
Working in three countries of sub-Saharan Africa, the School’s PEPFAR
project has trained health professionals, strengthened in-country
academic medical centers, and built sustainable capacity for treatment,
preventive services, and research.

Through faculty retreats and meetings with department chairs, Bloom
oversaw the development of a planning matrix that has served as a guide
for strategic decisions at the School addressing rapid trends in
science, technology, and globalization. He worked to create the new
Department of Genetics and Complex Diseases, which seeks to focus on
biological mechanisms of particular relevance to the most important
chronic disease threats to public health and to leverage the School’s
outstanding epidemiological research on obesity, diabetes, and
cardiovascular disease. With the merging of two departments into the
Department of Society, Human Development and Health, the School’s
efforts in understanding the social determinants of health as well as
maternal and child health were strengthened by encompassing a more
comprehensive “lifecourse” approach.

With the formation of a new bioinformatics core and a Program on
Quantitative Genomics, Bloom supported faculty efforts to bring
computational biology and informatics into research in basic science
and epidemiology. More recently, he has formed a committee to focus on
genes and the environment — bringing together biologists,
epidemiologists, environmental scientists, and biostatisticians to
integrate knowledge about the genetic and environmental factors crucial
to understanding the mechanisms of complex multigenic diseases.

Bloom has presided over the recruitment of outstanding leaders in
public health to the School’s faculty while also increasing the
percentage of women and minorities and supporting mentoring for junior

He has emphasized the importance of communications, explicitly adding
it to the School’s mission statement. This provided the impetus for a
new academic concentration in health communication in the School, and
the launch of an Office of Communications to spur outreach to the media
and the public.

Bloom has also refocused and strengthened the School’s Division of
Public Health Practice
to enable a regional and national impact in the
areas of tobacco control, cancer prevention, and public health
preparedness. Together with the HSPH Center for Health Communication,
he engaged Hollywood to amend its film rating system so that the
depiction of tobacco use would for the first time be considered a
factor in a film’s rating, enabling parents to protect their children
from the harms of the largest preventable cause of illness in the

A strong proponent of cross-School interactions, Bloom has worked
with colleagues across the University, engaging with the Asia Center
and the Harvard China Fund, supporting the development of the Harvard
Initiative for Global Health
(HIGH), and collaborating with the Kennedy
School on an upcoming forum on the sustainability of institutional
innovations to improve health. He was particularly pleased by the
successful launch of a joint JD-MPH program in law and public health
with Harvard Law School.

“As a scientist and dean, Barry Bloom has invested his extraordinary
intellect and energy in exploring how research and education can
contribute to fundamental improvements in people’s health and
well-being,” said Steven E. Hyman, provost of Harvard University. “He
has also been a leading voice in considering how Harvard can pursue
innovation across disciplines and Schools and how we can expand our
engagement with the world beyond our borders. I know that Barry will
continue to be a greatly valued citizen of the University, given his
highly integrated and genuinely global perspective on the improvement
of health.”

An internationally recognized expert in immunology and infectious
diseases, Bloom, 71, is a leader in global health policy as a member of
scientific advisory boards for the World Health Organization, the
National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention, and independent foundations and is also a former consultant
to the White House on international health policy. He continues to
pursue an active interest in bench science as the principal
investigator of a laboratory researching new vaccine strategies for
tuberculosis, a disease that claims more than two million lives each

Bloom holds a bachelor’s degree in biology and an honorary
doctorate from Amherst College and a doctoral degree in immunology from
Rockefeller University. He is a past president of the American
Association of Immunologists and the Federation of American Societies
for Experimental Biology. He received the first Bristol-Myers Squibb
Award for Distinguished Research in Infectious Diseases in 1991, shared
the Novartis Award in Immunology in 1998, and was the recipient of the
Robert Koch Gold Medal for lifetime research in infectious diseases in
1999. He recently received an honorary doctorate from Erasmus
University, Rotterdam, in recognition of his “outstanding studies on
the immune response in tuberculosis, in particular of its genetic
control … and work on various techniques in vaccine development,” and
for his “towering contribution to international health and leadership
in public health education.”

Barry Bloom is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, the
Institute of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and
the American Philosophical Society.
After stepping down as dean, Bloom will become a Harvard University
Distinguished Service Professor and continue his research and other
activities related to global health as a member of the HSPH faculty.

Faust said that she intends promptly to launch a search for Bloom’s
successor. “In undertaking the search, I will want to consult widely
with the members of the HSPH community and knowledgeable others — to
benefit from your perspectives on the state of the School, the
qualities to look for in our next dean, and possible candidates for the
deanship,” she said in a message to the HSPH community. “For today, I
hope you will join me in congratulating Barry on his distinguished
service and in looking forward, with him, to a future full of promise
for the School of Public Health.”