Our Legacy

The Department of Public Health Practice was one of the original four departments that made up the Graduate School of Public Health when it was established in 1949. Later renamed the Department of Health Services Administration, it split in 2002 to form the departments of Health Policy and Management (HPM) and Behavioral and Community Health Sciences (BCHS). So technically, ours is one of the oldest and newest departments at Pitt Public Health.

The history of BCHS can best be told through the accomplishments of our people.

In 1967, Elsie Broussard became the first head of the community health program and would serve the department for the next 50 years, specializing in maternal-child interactions and heading the Pittsburgh First-Born Project, whose subjects she would study from birth to middle age.

Edward Suchman’s 1967 bestseller Evaluative Research: Principles and Practice in Public Service and Social Action Programs helped to establish approaches to evaluating the Great Society programs of the mid-1960s.

Edmund Ricci, still a member of the faculty, began teaching the first evaluation courses in the early 1970s. Since then, he has designed, directed, or participated in more than 300 evaluation studies. One such study, which he designed, evaluated uninsured children and helped to persuade Congress to expand health insurance programs for low-income children to all 50 states.

Finally, Ronald Stall launched the AIDS Behavioral Research Project, one of the first longitudinal studies of AIDS risk-taking behaviors in the world, in 1984. Stall has published more than 140 papers on AIDS-related topics, including the first paper to use empirical data to demonstrate the effects of intersecting epidemics in promoting high-risk sex and HIV infection among gay men. He currently directs the Center for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered Health Research.

We’re continuing to make history through the impact of our research on major areas within public health, namely aging, minority health, relational and youth violence, and LGBT health.

In January 2010 the University of Pittsburgh approved a proposal from the Graduate School of Public Health to establish a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Behavioral and Community Health Sciences and to modify the existing Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) in Behavioral and Community Health Sciences. The creation of the PhD degree program has resulted in a dramatic increase in the number of applicants to the doctoral program—from 25 in the Fall of 2010 to 74 in the Fall of 2014. This multi-year effort was led by Patricia Documet and Jeanette Trauth.

Learn more about our current research.