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About Baltimore

Baltimore Community Engagement

The Bloomberg School is dedicated to improving the world—with a special focus on the local community of Baltimore, Maryland.  

About Baltimore

Baltimore is a vibrant city of neighborhoods that supports and inspires hundreds of thousands of people every day. It is also a metropolis that faces major public health challenges with deep roots in history.  

The racist practices of redlining and segregation separated parts of the city from one another and the city itself from surrounding counties. Communities that have experienced longstanding underinvestment now disproportionately suffer from poverty, violence, overdose, and other fundamental threats to health. 

Baltimore Arial shot by Getty Images/Vito Palmisano

Community Engagement

The Bloomberg School collaborates with numerous partners to improve Baltimore through outreach, partnership, service, research, and education.  


SOURCE is the Johns Hopkins community engagement and service-learning center in East Baltimore. With more than 100 local community organizations as partners, SOURCE engages thousands of students, staff, and faculty each year in a broad range of mutually beneficial community engagement projects.   

Johns Hopkins Urban Health Institute

The Johns Hopkins Urban Health Institute focuses solely on improving health and health equity in our city. With the support of faculty and other resources from the Bloomberg School, the Urban Health Institute sponsors conferences and talks, supports local projects and city leadership, and facilitates important conversations across East Baltimore. 

Harrison C. Spencer Award for community service

In 2019, the Bloomberg School received the  Harrison C. Spencer Award for community service from the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health for its contributions to Baltimore. The School views this award as a starting place, not a destination.    

ASPPH Harrison C. Spencer award for community service

A Commitment to Progress

Many Bloomberg faculty conduct community-engaged research in Baltimore, tackling such challenges as infant mortality, drug addiction, HIV, and environmental threats to health. To support this work, each Department at the School has adopted a special mission statement for Baltimore and supports a set of projects to improve health and well-being locally. The Baltimore City Health Department’s chief epidemiologist and chief policy officer are full-time faculty at the School. 

Most recently, in 2021, the School launched a Baltimore Community Engagement Committee to promote continuous improvement in collaborating with Baltimore.  

Department Mission Statements and Project Highlights

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology


The Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology conducts research to discover and characterize the fundamental biological processes relevant to health and disease. The Department seeks to support Baltimore organizations that introduce city students to the biomedical sciences and public health.  


Food and Book Drive 2022  

The Diversity and Inclusion Committee worked closely with BMB student representatives to organize and support a drive for donated food, personal hygiene items, books, and stationery in Spring 2022. A range of local service organizations, charities, and schools were recipients of items donated through the drive.  

Meyerhoff Scholars Program  

BMB is nurturing a strong bond with the Meyerhoff Scholars Program at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. The Meyerhoff Scholars Program is at the forefront of efforts to increase diversity among future leaders in science, technology, engineering, and related fields. We visit UMBC regularly and spend time with students interested in the various programs offered by BMB. These students make a perfect addition to the BMB family, and we have recruited UMBC students and Meyerhoff Scholars to our doctoral and master's programs.  

Henderson-Hopkins Middle School STEM Outreach  

In partnership with Henderson-Hopkins Elementary/Middle School in East Baltimore, BMB has held various STEM outreach events to talk with students about careers and personal experiences in science. These events included preparation check-ins for the middle school science fair, hosting a Meet a Scientist Day, and presenting at the school’s STEM career series. We had Department-wide volunteer participation  for most events and built a foundational relationship that will continue for the foreseeable future.  



The discipline of biostatistics creates and applies methods for quantitative research in the health sciences. In Baltimore, the Department supports the design and analysis of critical studies of importance to the health of the city. It also aims to promote education in biostatistics and associated career paths for city students. Our ultimate goals in these activities are to create authentic relationships with community partners to improve the health of the city’s residents and create avenues for opportunity, empowerment, and social change through the application of quantitative  reasoning  and data science and statistical education.  


Aging and Experience Corps 

The Department of Biostatistics is an integral part of the Women’s Health and Aging Studies, which has followed more than a thousand older Baltimoreans for up to 17 years to determine factors that contribute to robust health and conditions that play a part in disability or frailty. Another initiative, the Experience Corps Project, in partnership with Baltimore City schools, Civic Ventures (a nonprofit in San Francisco, California), and the Greater Homewood Community Corporation, engages older adults to tutor children in Baltimore schools, an activity that can yield health benefits for the adults and improve children’s educational experience and behavior. Department faculty have contributed to these two studies since their inception, from initial study design through analysis.


The Department’s free massive open online courses (MOOCs) make it possible for students worldwide to obtain data science and statistics education. In partnership with Leanpub and local nonprofits such as  Youth Opportunity (YO!) Baltimore, HeartSmiles, and Urban Alliance, the Department created DataTrail, a paid 14-week educational initiative for young adults and high school and GED graduates. DataTrail aims to equip members of underserved communities with the skills and support required to work in the booming data science field. With a dual focus on training Black, Indigenous, and other people of color, and their potential employers, DataTrail is a fresh take on workforce development. 

Baltimore Community Data Science  

The Department has developed the course, Baltimore Community Data Science, in partnership with  SOURCE, the community engagement and service-learning center. In this course, students collaborate with community organizations, such as the Baltimore Transit Equity Coalition, the No Boundaries Coalition, and HeartSmiles, to work together on data science-related goals.   

Environmental Health and Engineering


The Department of Environmental Health and Engineering is committed to promoting public health and a healthy environment in Baltimore. To this end, EHE is engaged in numerous activities, including health promotion and screening programs, educational activities, and direct environmental health research in Baltimore communities. EHE centers, faculty, staff, and students partner with a variety of community-based organizations and local and state government agencies in Baltimore to improve the local environment and the health of city residents. EHE provides educational opportunities and materials on a variety of topics, such as asthma prevention strategies, promotion of healthy homes, promotion of access to and consumption of healthy foods, and promotion of the health of our local waterways. Building trusting relationships and fostering bidirectional communications among local residents, community leaders, and EHE staff is central to creating a healthy and just environment in Baltimore. 


Day at Northeast Market 

Nearly twenty years ago, the Department’s community engagement team helped to establish Day at the Market, which is held at least two days a month at the Northeast Market near the School. This program provides information to market-goers on nutrition and a host of health concerns including cancer, heart disease, asthma and diabetes. Most recently, the program added blood pressure screening and other services to help people prevent and manage chronic illness.  

Project Leads: Barbara Bates-Hopkins

Safer Agriculture in Baltimore 

To investigate potential metal contamination risks associated with urban agriculture in Baltimore, researchers at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, based in the Department, collaborated with the Farm Alliance of Baltimore, Parks & People Foundation, Baltimore City Office of Sustainability, and University of Maryland Extension, Baltimore, to design and implement the Safe Urban Harvests Study. During the 2017 growing season, researchers surveyed 104 farms and gardens in Baltimore to learn about their growing practices and tested soil and water. The study found that, with rare exceptions, urban farmers and gardeners can continue growing safely in Baltimore. This report summarizes the findings and provides guidance on ways to reduce exposures to contaminants in urban agriculture.  

Evaluating the Impacts of Energy Options on Baltimore’s Air Quality 

A Department team is working with Yale University researchers on the EPA-funded Solutions for Energy, AiR, Climate and Health Center to evaluate how low-cost sensor technology can be used to assess neighborhood-level variability in pollutant and greenhouse gas concentrations. Since 2019, the EHE team has built and deployed about 45 low-cost air quality monitors around Baltimore that measure concentrations of contaminants relevant to human health and climate health. Researchers are using the network data to evaluate spatial and temporal patterns in air pollution exposures and to understand the role of important sources in the region on the variability observed.  A major focus of the project is to quantify the accuracy, precision, and calibration requirements for a low-cost network.  

Faculty Lead: Kirsten Koehler, PhD



The Department of Epidemiology improves the public’s health by training epidemiologists and by advancing knowledge and skills concerning the causes and prevention of disease and the promotion of health. The Department supports Baltimore by strengthening the city’s capacity to use the tools of epidemiology to understand patterns of illness and improve health outcomes. The Department promotes a diverse and inclusive community and provides training in the competencies, practice, and translation of epidemiology with ultimate goals of improving physical and mental health, reducing disability, advancing health equity, and preventing premature deaths. 


Baltimore’s Guaranteed Income Pilot Program 

Baltimore’s Guaranteed Income Pilot Program, which launched in April 2022, will provide 200 Baltimore-based parents between 18 and 24 with an unconditional cash payment of $1,000 per month over two years to provide financial stability. The Department is guiding two research projects in connection with the program, which will serve as a model pilot for Mayors for a Guaranteed Income. The research efforts are supported by the Johns Hopkins Urban Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.  

Faculty Lead: Lorraine Dean, ScD

COVID-19 Research Response Program: Community Collaboration to Combat Coronavirus (C-FORWARD)

Department faculty are leading a Baltimore-based study, Community Collaboration to Combat Coronavirus, as part of the University’s COVID-19 Research Response Program. This is an ongoing study to compare three approaches to testing: 1) fixed-site testing, such as at a pharmacy 2) community-based mobile van testing, or 3) self-collected home-based testing. 

Faculty Lead: Shruti Mehta, PhD, MPH

Addressing Addiction and Overdose

Baltimore has the highest per capita prevalence of injection drug use in the U.S. Department faculty experts are leading research with a focus on characterizing the intersecting epidemics of substance use, criminal justice involvement, and blood-borne infections such as HIV and hepatitis C. A current research focus is on strengthening harm reduction services through integration with other key interventions, such as linkage to treatment for substance use disorder, HIV prevention and care, and curative treatment for chronic hepatitis C infection. Researchers are also interested in evaluating the role of law enforcement deflection programs as a tool to reduce the negative impact of criminal justice system involvement.

Faculty Lead: Javier Cepeda, PhD, MPH

Health, Behavior and Society


The Department of Health, Behavior and Society is dedicated to solving pressing public health challenges in Baltimore, the U.S., and around the globe by engaging in impactful public health research, training, and practice focused on the influences of social context, structures, systems, and behaviors.  


B’more for Healthy Babies 

The Department’s Center for Communication Programs is the lead communications partner, working in close partnership with the Baltimore City Health Department, the Family League of Baltimore, and HealthCare Access Maryland, for the citywide initiative to reduce infant mortality known as  B’more for Healthy Babies (BHB). The initiative works to improve health before, during, and after pregnancy and link birthing people with evidence-based social support and health services. The Center has developed communication programs used across the city to support safe sleep for infants, smoking cessation, and other critical topics driving birth outcomes. CCP actively participates on BHB’s anti-racism workgroup and provides technical support toward increased collaboration with community residents in identifying inequities, jointly developing solutions, and carrying out action plans.     

Faculty Lead: Amber Summer 


CCP is the communications partner for the UChoose  program, a collaborative effort among Baltimore agencies, including the Baltimore City Health Department, city schools, and community partners, to promote healthy sexual and reproductive health (SRH) decisions among city residents 24 and younger. CCP supports the UChoose social marketing campaign to empower Baltimore’s young people to make healthy choices and access services through increasing awareness about evidence-based SRH services and information, working side-by-side with young people to shape the program’s messaging.   

Baltimore City COVID-19 Vaccination

CCP is a communications partner for Baltimore’s COVID-19 vaccination efforts. Led by the Baltimore City Health Department, multiple community partners and institutions collaboratively pursue a city-wide goal of vaccinating 80% of all eligible Baltimore residents. CCP supports outreach to community members through education and information about the COVID-19 vaccine and supports health care providers through development and dissemination of patient counseling aids and resources.    

Health Policy and Management


The Department of Health Policy and Management aims to advance the public’s health through the development, implementation, and evaluation of effective health and social policies, and emphasizes the importance of sound management and creative leadership in identifying and implementing effective and equitable solutions. In Baltimore, the Department’s faculty, staff, and students work to support effective health policy on a broad range of topics, working with both the public and private sectors.  


Reducing Violence and Building Trust in Baltimore  

Reducing Violence and Building Trust: Data to Guide Enforcement of Gun Laws in Baltimore

Faculty and staff at the Center for Gun Violence Solutions designed a project in partnership with the Baltimore community to collect and interpret data to inform efforts to prevent unconstitutional practices, strengthen the quality of investigations of gun law violations, and improve understanding of the perspectives and wishes of community members most impacted by both gun violence and stop-and-search police practices. Additionally, based on input from law enforcement agencies around the country, the Center published the report Reducing Violence and Building Trust: Data to Guide Enforcement of Gun Laws in Baltimore. It offers data-informed findings and community-driven recommendations for approaches to enforcing gun laws in Baltimore that are constitutional, respectful of community concerns, focused, and effective.  

Faculty Lead: Daniel W. Webster, ScD, MPH

Promoting Equitable Transportation  

Mobility is a key determinant of health, affecting access to medical care, nutritious food, and education, among others. In 2019, Baltimore launched the dockless vehicle program, in which private companies provide rental electronic scooters and bicycles to city residents and others through a permitting process. An equity zone policy is in place to ensure daily redistribution of vehicles to 20 high-priority mobility areas established by the city. The Department is collaborating with the Baltimore City Department of Transportation (BCDOT) to evaluate the impact of the dockless vehicle program on mobility and equity, better understand the impact of the equity zone policy, and inform future regulation. BCDOT is committed to using the results from this project to inform strategies as they expand their mobility programs.  

Faculty Lead: Johnathon Ehsani, PhD

The Mobility Asthma Project  

Mobility Asthma Project

The Institute for Health and Social Policy’s Mobility Asthma Project, in conjunction with the Baltimore Regional Housing Partnership, is examining how housing mobility programs, where families are supported in moving to less segregated communities, may address the root causes of the exposures that drive asthma disparities. The study, led by Department and Institute experts, follows children with asthma in Baltimore to assess their asthma symptoms and exposures before and after moving from high-poverty segregated neighborhoods to low-poverty neighborhoods. This project aims to advance the understanding of long-term health effects of living in poor quality housing in high-poverty neighborhoods and inform the development of policy-oriented interventions to reduce the burden of asthma.  

Faculty Co-Lead: Craig Pollack, MD, MHS, MSc

International Health


Within Baltimore, there are glaring disparities in health outcomes between different parts of the city, with greater disadvantage among Black and minority communities. Our University has increasingly recognized the role that it can play in driving social and economic development opportunities in Baltimore. The Department of International Health has decades of expertise in addressing health challenges in low-resource environments, and our learning from the global context is beginning to translate into more opportunities for Baltimore. One key strategic objective of the Department for 2020–2024 is to strengthen partnerships in Baltimore and, with Native American communities across the U.S., explore the relevance of solutions developed to address global challenges to local communities.  


Baltimore Urban Food Distribution  

The Baltimore Urban food Distribution (BUD) study is an intervention that leverages technology to move fresh foods from local suppliers to corner stores in food-scarce Baltimore neighborhoods. The study aims to develop, implement, and evaluate the feasibility of a Baltimore Urban food Distribution (BUD) web-based application using a randomized controlled trial design, and assess its impact on corner store stocking and sales. A key activity of the BUD trial has been the sharing of study experiences and findings with the Baltimore community, Baltimore City government, Maryland agencies, and more. Our collaboration with SpringForwardTM, a local urban hydroponic farm, has provided opportunities for them to expand their market. We also work with local partners B Green Wholesale and 4MyCiTy, a nonprofit committed to sustainable food use and distribution. 

Faculty Lead: Joel Gittelsohn, PhD
Project Coordinator: Emma C. Lewis, MS 
Project Manager: Lisa K. Poirier, MHS

 Baltimore City Health Department: COVID-19 Response 

Starting in March 2020, dozens of faculty and students from the Bloomberg School, including International Health faculty, became involved in supporting the Baltimore City Health Department’s COVID-19 response. Through a public private partnership, they developed and provided a guidance document that has helped to inform the structure, organization, and implementation of the city’s response, with participation from the wider JHU and JHMI community, University of Maryland Medical Center, CareFirst, and other local partners. The effort directly supported the Health Department with technical input, draft documents, communication, and isolation and quarantine advice scripts; technical support for surveillance, linking of uninsured patients with care, call-center development, testing strategy, and data system and data analysis activities. 

Faculty Lead: Melissa A. Marx, PhD, MPH

Baltimore Health Corps

With a Bloomberg Philanthropies grant to support the COVID-19 response that was directed by Department faculty, Jhpiego, a Johns Hopkins affiliate, was engaged to oversee an effort to hire Baltimore residents as contact tracers and resource coordinators with Baltimore Community Health Corps. They hired and trained 234 contact tracers, 37 contact tracing supervisors, and 10 program managers. Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott described the initiative as a “national model.” This initiative was one of many innovative COVID-19 programs implemented by Baltimore city.

Faculty Lead: Melissa A. Marx, PhD, MPH

Mental Health


The Department of Mental Health conducts research to advance the understanding of mental and behavioral disorders; develops, implements, and evaluates methods to prevent and control these disorders; and promotes mental health in the population.  

Faculty, students, and staff in the Department have a long history of working in partnership with local organizations, agencies, and Baltimore residents to advance research, advocacy, and policies that aim to promote positive behavioral health and eliminate or lessen disparities in mental and behavioral disorders. Department faculty, students, and staff take multiple approaches to this work, including supporting residents or agencies in their advocacy and initiatives and directly engaging community partners in the planning, design, implementation, and interpretation and dissemination of research findings. A common thread in the Department’s partnered projects and initiatives is a commitment to advancing inclusion, diversity, equity, and anti-racism in relationships with Baltimore community members and organizations. The following three diverse areas are among the many examples of community engagement occurring in the Department of Mental Health.    


Trauma-Informed Care and Response in Baltimore  

Faculty in the Department serve on Baltimore’s Trauma-Informed Care Task Force to carry out the vision of the Elijah Cummings Healing City Act, and contribute to planning the development and delivery of trauma-informed services across city agencies and communities. Aligned with this effort is the East Baltimore Community Trauma Response Program, which aims to systematically address the traumas experienced by East Baltimore. Faculty also collaborate with Roberta’s House in East Baltimore to strengthen the organization’s bereavement peer-support services that provide healing to residents who have experienced loss due to violence in the city.  

Faculty Leads: Tamar Mendelson, PhD, MA; Philip Leaf, PhD, MS; Leslie Adams, PhD, MPH

Housing, Neighborhood Policies, and the Built Environment in Baltimore

In collaboration with the Baltimore City Department of Housing and Community Development, Department faculty are investigating whether the installation of light-reflecting “cool roofs”—which have been promoted by city agencies to reduce energy consumption and temperatures in city homes—is associated with improvements in sleep quality, respiratory health, depressive symptoms, and other measures of well-being among residents. Additionally, a faculty team, in collaboration with the Housing Authority of Baltimore City, Urban Strategies Inc., and local photographers, is seeking to understand how the Perkins Somerset Oldtown Transformation, a community redevelopment initiative funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, is impacting the mental and physical health of East Baltimore residents.    

Faculty Co-Leads: Kirsten Koehler, PhD; Adam Spira, PhD, MA; Sabriya Linton, PhD, MPH

Baltimore Youth and Law Enforcement

With several community partners—Roca Baltimore, HeartSmiles, No Boundaries Coalition, Outward Bound Chesapeake Bay, Baltimore Community Mediation Center, and Project Pneuma, as well as the Baltimore City Police Department and Baltimore youth—Department experts are investigating youth-police interactions in Baltimore and identifying barriers to effectively policing adolescents, in addition to gaps in police training. Community partners are also co-creating a novel police training curriculum and resource materials for youth about youth-police interactions.   

Faculty Lead: Rebecca Fix, PhD, MS

Molecular Microbiology and Immunology


 The Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology pursues research that aims to advance the understanding of the biology of disease and to use knowledge to solve public health problems affecting our community. The Department seeks to apply this knowledge in Baltimore and to encourage Baltimore students to pursue careers in biomedical fields. 


Diversity Summer Internship Program

Laboratories in the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology participate in the Diversity Summer Internship Program, an eight-week summer program that provides undergraduates from underrepresented and diverse groups with an opportunity to carry out an independent research project in biomedical science.   

Medical Education Resources Initiative for Teens

The departments of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology and Biochemistry and Molecular Biology have partnered to expand involvement in the Medical Education Resources Initiative for Teens (MERIT) program by hosting Baltimore city students to work in our labs during the summer months.   

R3 Center for Innovation in Science Education

The MMI R3 Center for Innovation in Science Education offers a graduate course in civic engagement (PH.260.848), which is a service-learning course targeted at helping Baltimore community partners evaluate their services to the community.  

Faculty Lead: Gundula Bosch, PhD, MEd

Population, Family and Reproductive Health


The Department of Population, Family and Reproductive Health strives to optimize the health and well-being of individuals, families, and populations across the life course through public health science, teaching, and practice. We cultivate partnerships with community organizations and local agencies to improve health across the lifespan in Baltimore and beyond. 


Nutrition for Women, Infants, and Children 

The Johns Hopkins Women’s, Infants and Children program provides services to over 8,000  WIC-eligible clients at 12 clinics and several shelters for the homeless, victims of domestic abuse, and pre-school age children in Baltimore. The program is supported at the state level with funds from the Maryland Department of Agriculture. It includes studies to address maternal obesity, improve food choices, and expand access to healthy food. Faculty work closely with the WIC program at Johns Hopkins and have implemented and studied numerous initiatives aimed at improving rates of breastfeeding among mothers served. 

Faculty Lead: Susan Gross, PhD, MPH

Youth Sexual Health in Baltimore 

Baltimore’s UChoose Coalition, led by the Baltimore City Health Department (BCHD), intends to ensure sustainable delivery of evidence-based teen pregnancy prevention programs in the city. Through this project, the Health Department, in partnership with  Baltimore City Schools, ensures that evidence-based teen pregnancy prevention programs are implemented in middle and high schools. Department faculty work with UChoose on implementation and evaluation. Currently, high schools are implementing Making Proud Choices and middle schools are implementing Rights, Respect, Responsibility, a program developed by Advocates for Youth. In addition, BCHD is adapting a program from Chicago, UCHAT, that aims to increase access to STI testing in community settings.  

Faculty Lead: Beth Marshall, DrPH, MPH

Vacant Lots and Adolescent Mental Health 

Baltimore is blighted with over 18,000 vacant lots and 17,000 abandoned buildings. A Department team is working with the city on its plan to eliminate lots in neighborhoods with large concentrations of vacancies. A multidisciplinary team of researchers and practitioners is building a shareable database of key characteristics of restored and unrestored vacant lots, and will also conduct a mixed-methods longitudinal study on changes in adolescent health associated with exposure to vacant lot restoration. With these findings, the team will develop and disseminate a blueprint for reducing adolescent health disparities through vacant lot restoration programs that can be adapted for different U.S. municipalities. 

Faculty Lead: Kristin Mmari, DrPH, MA