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Bloomberg School Through the Years


From its June 13, 1916, birth as the world's first independent degree-granting school of public health, the Bloomberg School has made history with trailblazing research, education, and practice.


William Henry Welch, MD, and Johns Hopkins University receive $267,000 from the Rockefeller Foundation to found the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health, the world’s first independent graduate school of public health. The grant application cites Baltimore’s tremendous health problems, which disproportionately impacted the city’s segregated Black population, as an asset for conducting public health research.


William Henry Howell, MD, is appointed the first faculty member and founding chair of the Department of Physiological Hygiene.


First academic departments in the world are established in immunology, epidemiology and public health administration. The Bloomberg School becomes the first school of public health to establish departments of statistics, bacteriology, chemical hygiene (biochemistry) and sanitary engineering.


First classes are held on October 1, 1918, in the School of Medicine’s physics lab on West Monument Street. Of 16 students, 3 are women and 3 are foreign citizens (from Brazil and Trinidad). Nine of the 32 faculty are women.


Nathan Berman is the first of 3 Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) recipients who constitute the first graduating class.


Margaret Baxter MacDonald and Helen Mary Powell, the School’s first women graduates, are awarded bachelor of science in hygiene degrees.

Certificate in Public Health (CPH) degree is established (renamed the Master of Public Health in 1939).

Welch founds the first public health research journal, the American Journal of Hygiene (renamed the American Journal of Epidemiology in 1965).


Elmer V. McCollum, PhD, founding chair of Biochemistry, discovers vitamin D and its role in preventing rickets. Before coming to The Bloomberg School in 1917, he and Marguerite Davis co-discovered vitamins A and B in 1913 and devised the vitamin nomenclature system.


The School’s first building on Wolfe Street formally opens on October 22, 1926.


Raymond Pearl, PhD, founding chair of what is now Biostatistics, becomes the first American biologist to publicly refute eugenics as bad science. Pearl and Welch were among several early faculty who had advocated eugenics, a form of scientific racism that advocated laws to restrict immigration and require compulsory sterilization of people with physical and mental disabilities including epilepsy and substance abuse problems.


After Lowell J. Reed, PhD, is appointed chair of Vital Statistics, he renames it the Department of Biostatistics—the first of its kind worldwide. He serves as dean from 1938 to 1946.


U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) begins its Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male, which observed 624 Black men from rural Alabama who had or later developed syphilis. J. E. Moore, a renowned syphilologist at the School of Medicine who also directed the Division of Venereal Disease Control in what is now Health Policy and Management, was a senior consultant to the study, independent of his university affiliation. USPHS doctors intentionally deceived the study participants by telling them they were receiving “special free treatment” for their “bad blood,” yet failed to obtain their informed consent or to provide treatment for decades, even after the advent of penicillin.


First nurse to graduate from The Bloomberg School: Margaret Gene Arnstein, MA, MPH ’34.


Congress provides federal public health training grants under the Social Security Act, which doubles CPH enrollment at The Bloomberg School.


USPHS awards the first federal public health training grant to The Bloomberg School, $10,000 annually for a graduate program in syphilis control.


Pearl publishes evidence in Science that life expectancy correlates inversely with smoking levels.


The Bloomberg School begins offering the Master of Public Health degree.


The Bloomberg School launches the world’s first academic unit in public mental health. It becomes the Department of Mental Hygiene in 1961.

Dean Reed convenes public health deans at the School to found the Association of Schools of Public Health (ASPH), and they elect him president.


Baltimore City Health Department appoints Miriam E. Brailey, MD, DrPH ’31, to head the Bureau of Tuberculosis. After demonstrating that Maryland Blacks suffer four times higher mortality from TB than whites but were allotted only one-third as many sanatoria beds, Brailey helps design Maryland’s new tuberculosis control program.


After developing the first effective pertussis vaccine in 1939, alumnae Pearl Kendrick, ScD ’32, and Grace Eldering, ScD ’42, combine three key childhood vaccines into a single shot: the DPT vaccine.

The Bloomberg School establishes its first research institute, the Center for Research on Poliomyelitis and Virus Diseases. Howard Howe, MD, David Bodian, MD, PhD, and Isabel Morgan, PhD, investigate the pathology of polio, contributing toward Jonas Salk's vaccine.


Johns Hopkins University’s first African-American graduate is USPHS officer Reginald G. James, MD, MPH ’46. For 25 years after the School opened, Black Baltimore physicians in the Monumental City Medical Society had lobbied for admission, but The Bloomberg School adhered to JHU’s whites-only policy. Yet the Bloomberg School did admit many international students and rejected the era’s widespread anti-Semitism.


Informed by The Bloomberg School faculty, the General Assembly passes the Maryland Medical Care Plan to serve low-income residents. It influences other states and later Medicare and Medicaid, which extend medical care access to millions previously excluded by low income and/or racial discrimination.


After leading the world’s first successful mosquito eradication campaign in Brazil, Fred L. Soper, ScD ’25, champions the use of DDT in vector control of insect-borne diseases. In 1963, Pearl’s former student, Rachel Carson, warns against DDT’s dangers in the environmental movement manifesto Silent Spring.


The Bloomberg School founds the world’s first department of environmental medicine.


Alexander Langmuir, MD, MPH ’40, establishes the CDC Epidemic Intelligence Service to protect against biological warfare and manmade epidemics.


UN demographers Chidambara Chandrasekaran, MPH ’48, and Margaret Bright, PhD, publish the first synthesis of world population data. Bright joins the Chronic Diseases faculty in 1959.


Frederik B. Bang, MD, chair of the Department of Pathobiology, initiates research on viruses as cancer agents and introduces the first JHU courses on electron microscopy.


First woman full professor at the Bloomberg School: Margaret Merrell, ScD ’30, in biostatistics.

Dean Ernest Stebbins, MD, MPH ’32, leads a The Bloomberg School faculty revolt to defeat the recommendation of the Committee to Reconsider the Educational Objectives of the School to eliminate the MPH. As ASPH president, he successfully lobbies Congress to provide federal tuition subsidies to schools of public health.

Based on findings by the USPHS Study Group on Smoking, including Morton L. Levin, MPH ’33, Abraham Lilienfeld, MPH ’49, and Lewis C. Robbins, MPH ’38, Surgeon General Leroy Burney, ScM ’32, states that “excessive smoking is one of the causative factors in lung cancer.”


Helen Abbey, ScD ’51, co-authors one of the first studies of heredity in breast cancer.


With a USAID grant, the Bloomberg School establishes the world’s first academic unit in international health, which serves as the agency’s health research and training arm. It becomes a department in 1967.


First PhD programs established in biochemistry, biostatistics, environmental medicine and radiological science.

The Bloomberg School launches the General Preventive Medicine Residency, the first board-certified graduate medical training program at a school of public health.


First Black Bloomberg School faculty member: Ralph Young, MD, in Chronic Diseases (later merged with Epidemiology).


First PhD graduate: Clyde Martin, Alfred Kinsey’s co-author on landmark sexuality studies.


First Black full professor at the Bloomberg School and JHU: M. Alfred Haynes, MD, in International Health. Haynes advocates for diversifying medical education and becomes founding dean of Charles Drew Graduate School of Medicine in Los Angeles.


David Paige, MD, MPH ’69, and the Maryland Food Bank establish an iron-fortified infant formula program in Baltimore’s Cherry Hill neighborhood. It is expanded statewide, and in 1974 becomes a model for the federal Women, Infants and Children (WIC) nutrition supplementation program. Of 8.8 million WIC recipients in 2016, 1.8 million (21%) are African American and 906,698 (10%) are American Indian/Alaskan Natives.


John E. Wennberg, MD, MPH ’66, and Biostatistics faculty member Alan Gittelsohn, PhD, MPH, write in Science about regional variations in cost and utilization of medical care, paving the way to major reforms in health care delivery and financing.

First public health undergraduate major established at Johns Hopkins.

Alan M. Goldberg, PhD, John Fales, PhD, and postdoctoral fellow Ellen K. Silbergeld, PhD, publish the first studies linking low-level exposure to lead with hyperactivity and other childhood disorders.


Edyth Schoenrich, MD, MPH ’71, becomes the highest-ranking woman in JHU history to that time when she is appointed Associate Dean of Academic Affairs.


First Assistant Dean for Student Affairs: Edgar Roulhac, PhD, MPH ’75. He is later the first African American associate dean and vice provost at JHU.


World’s first graduate program in genetic epidemiology established by Bernice Cohen, MD, MPH ’59 and Epidemiology chair Abe Lilienfeld, with Victor McKusick, MD, of the School of Medicine.


Much of the Department of Epidemiology’s survey research in the 1980s and 90s was conducted by Black women working for the Baltimore Survey Research Center.


After a decade-long global campaign led by D. A. Henderson, MD, MPH ’60, WHO declares smallpox eradicated worldwide. Henderson serves as dean from 1977 to 1990.


Women comprise a majority of the School’s graduates for the first time.


First woman department chair at the Bloomberg School or JHU: Karen Davis, PhD, in Health Policy and Management.

UNICEF director Jim Grant announces his strategy for a “child survival revolution”—mass campaigns to deliver immunizations, treat diarrheal disease with oral rehydration solution, and promote breastfeeding and nutritional supplementation throughout the developing world. The research and advocacy of the Bloomberg School faculty and alumni play a key role in the success of the child survival revolution, which cuts global mortality of children under age 5 by more than half between 1980 and 2010.


The Multisite AIDS Cohort Study (MACS) begins, with the Baltimore site at the Bloomberg School. MACS becomes the longest-running AIDS research cohort study and generates more than 1,400 publications on the natural history, pathology, epidemiology, and social and behavioral determinants of HIV/AIDS. The Bloomberg School hosts the MACS Data Center and the Johns Hopkins Biological Repository, which provide study data and biologic specimens to AIDS researchers around the world.


Prior to becoming dean in 1990, Alfred Sommer, MD, MHS ’73, discovers that high-dose vitamin A supplementation reduces child mortality in developing countries by 34 percent. His evidence-based advocacy helps to convince the WHO, UNICEF, and other global health agencies to adopt vitamin A supplementation as an inexpensive means of saving millions of lives.


Ruth Faden, PhD, MPH, co-authors the first bioethics textbook, A History and Theory of Informed Consent. The book deals extensively with the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, which ended in 1972 after publication of a New York Times exposé. Faden’s co-author and husband, Tom L. Beauchamp, PhD, was lead author of the 1978 Belmont Report issued by the National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research, a catalyst for creating the modern Institutional Review Board system and the field of bioethics. In 1995, Faden becomes founding director of the Berman Institute for Bioethics at the School.


Susan P. Baker, MPH ’68, co-author of the Institute of Medicine report Injury in America, receives a CDC grant to establish the Injury Prevention Center at the Bloomberg School, one of five such units. Baker, her students, and center faculty lead in establishing the public health field of injury prevention.


As founding director of the FDA Division of Anti-Viral Drug Products, Ellen C. Cooper, MD, MPH ’77, fast-tracks approval of AZT, the first effective HIV therapy. The move, made in response to AIDS activists, opens the way for reforms that shorten the Food and Drug Administration’s timetable for vaccine approval.


The Bloomberg School is ranked No. 1 in the first U.S. News & World Report rankings of schools of public health, and retains the honor through the most recent ranking.

Under Health Commissioner Peter L. Beilenson, MD, MPH ’90, the Baltimore City Health Department initiates a needle-exchange program, informed by the Bloomberg School research on HIV infection among gay and bisexual male injection drug users. The needle-exchange program was a key factor in reducing the HIV rate among Baltimore’s injection drug users from 53 percent in 1992 to 12 percent in 2011.


With CDC funding, the Bloomberg School becomes the first school of public health to launch an online MPH program. Over the next decade, the School becomes the world’s largest nonprofit online provider of public health education.


The School is renamed the Bloomberg School of Public Health in honor of Michael R. Bloomberg’s unprecedented commitment of energy and financial support to the School and Johns Hopkins University.


The Bloomberg School establishes SOURCE (Student Outreach Resource Center), which anchors the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions’ commitment to service-learning and community partnerships. For its service to Baltimore community organizations, SOURCE receives the inaugural Harrison C. Spencer Award for Outstanding Community Service from the Association of Schools and Programs in Public Health in 2019.

The Bloomberg School welcomes Tulane MPH students fleeing New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.


The School offers more than 75 free online courses, opening public health .

Baltimore City Health Commissioner Josh Sharfstein, MD, works with the Johns Hopkins Urban Health Institute to issue the first report documenting how Baltimore zip codes affect life expectancy. The life expectancy in the impoverished, majority-Black neighborhood of Hollins Market is 63 years but in wealthy, mostly white Roland Park, it is 83.


The Master of Science in Public Health (MSPH) degree is established.


The School establishes the Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse, the first academic center dedicated to a public health approach to child sexual abuse.

The School begins a collaboration with Coursera, a for-profit provider of massive online open courses (MOOCs). By January 2017, cumulative enrollment in the School’s 57 MOOCs exceeds 5.2 million.

Dean Michael J. Klag, MD, MPH ’87, joins Twitter and helps Johns Hopkins become the most-followed school of public health on Facebook and Twitter, with a combined 480,000 followers by 2017.


In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, which killed 28 people, the Center for Gun Policy and Research, the Bloomberg School and the University convene top gun policy experts to identify research-based policies to reduce gun violence in the United States. Within a month of the summit, Johns Hopkins University Press publishes Reducing Gun Violence in America: Informing Policy with Evidence and Analysis and sends copies to members of Congress and the Obama administration.


The School celebrates its Centennial, culminating in a $300 million gift from Bloomberg Philanthropies to establish the Bloomberg American Health Initiative. The Initiative focuses on reversing the decline in American life expectancy through research and advocacy on the key areas of Addiction & Overdose, Adolescent Health, Environmental Challenges, Obesity & the Food System, and Violence.


Ellen J. MacKenzie, PhD ’79, ScM ’75, renowned for her research on traumatic injury prevention and care systems, becomes the School’s first woman dean.


The Bloomberg School offers a fully online MPH program for the first time.

In October, the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, World Economic Forum, and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation simulated the international response to a fast-moving pandemic started by a novel coronavirus. In January 2020, the group published recommendations and a call to action, the same week that China confirmed human-to-human transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.


From real-time tracking with the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 Dashboard to combating COVID misinformation to recognizing that COVID was spread by airborne transmission, Johns Hopkins was a critical player in the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic.


The Hopkins Bloomberg Center opens at 555 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC, enabling Johns Hopkins to bridge evidence-based research and policy in the nation’s capital. The center provides a base for the Planetary Health Alliance and Bloomberg School’s Department of Health Policy and Management, Center for Gun Violence Solutions, and Center for Health Security.


The School breaks ground for a new South Building, adjacent to the Wolfe Street Building, that will bring all 10 academic departments together in one interconnected location and accommodate future growth.