Welcome from Chair


Welcome to the Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences (BCHS) at Pitt Public Health. We invite you to browse our Web site and get a sense of faculty, staff, and student interests. The Web site also provides news about funded research, community partners, degree programs and courses, and recent publications and awards.

BCHS applies research on the dynamics of health behavior change to improve health in communities. We ask how people reason about health behavior, what leads people to consider their health at risk or a particular behavior “risky.” We also ask how people adopt a health protective behavior and why behavioral interventions may or may not have desired effects. Testing these interventions requires engaged community partners and multi-level analyses. New investigations examine the neural substrate of health behavior, what happens to the brain when someone changes behavior. These investigations help us understand “syndemics,” how different risk behaviors and associated health outcomes are linked. The goal is better health for populations, including the most vulnerable and marginal.

Our curriculum incorporates the latest advances in social, behavioral, and computational science. Students can take advantage of courses and earn certificates offered by centers within the department, including the Center for LGBT Health, Center for Health Equity, and Institute for Evaluation Science in Community Health. Students can also earn a certificate in community-based participatory research and work with our Concept Mapping Center.

The department has a world-class faculty heavily involved in teaching, research, and community service locally, nationally, and internationally. We collaborate directly with an array of local and regional public health systems, and leaders of many of these organizations serve on our faculty. We are involved in national and international projects funded by NIH, CDC, USAID, and a number of NGOs and foundations. We are particularly noted for our community-based emphasis in research, practice, and evaluation. Faculty and student research sites extend from the US to Thailand, India, and Peru. Postdoctoral fellows hail from countries as diverse as Israel, South Africa, Vietnam, and Pakistan.

Graduates assume positions in a variety of public health and related organizations, including federal, state, and local governmental organizations, as well as a range of private sector and public-funded agencies. MPH graduates are responsible for community health planning, research and evaluation, and administration of programs designed to improve the health of populations. PhD and DrPH graduates go on to careers in public health research, teaching, and administration.

Please contact Paul Markgraf with any questions about our program. We look forward to hearing from you.

Dr. Velpandi Ayyavoo
Department Interim chair