New RCSI School of Population Health will deliver positive change and improve health in Ireland and globally

  • General news
  • Research
  • Global surgery

A new School of Population Health launched today by RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences will seek to better understand and address the complex and ever-changing barriers to better health, in Ireland and globally.

The School will build on the university’s legacy of impact in population and public health, which can be traced back to the 1840s when Sir Charles Cameron, former RCSI President, campaigned to improve public health in Dublin. The university established a division of population health sciences in 2006 and, more recently, RCSI experts became trusted voices throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pandemic saw unprecedented cooperation between disciplines and speed of scholarship and dissemination, as well as a strengthening of the relationship between health and economics. The School will build on this progress, and on advances in technology and big data, with a particular emphasis on reducing health inequalities and focusing efforts in vulnerable subgroups of the population.

The School integrates multiple scientific disciplines, including public health and epidemiology, data science, health psychology, healthcare outcomes and global surgery. It will drive multi-disciplinary initiatives in research, develop educational programmes and work with a diverse range of national and global partners to positively impact population health.

Global impact

Officially launching the School of Population Health today, Google Chief Health Officer, Dr Karen DeSalvo, said: “RCSI has an honourable tradition in educating health professionals from around the globe, as well as a pioneering role in improving public health in the nineteenth century and beyond. I am delighted to be here in Dublin today, to celebrate the official launch of the new School of Population Health, and mark the start of a new chapter in the university’s history.”

Professor Cathal Kelly, Vice-Chancellor, RCSI, said: “RCSI’s mission, to educate, nurture and discover for the benefit of human health, is rooted in equity. As signatories to the UN Sustainable Development Goals accord, we are dedicated to fostering improvements in communities, locally, nationally and globally, to deliver real change and to improve the health of populations.

“COVID-19 brought population health science to the fore and raised both awareness and expectations for what it can do to address the other major challenges affecting population health. RCSI’s new School of Population Health is dedicated to building on this in order to improve our understanding of the determinants of health and promote positive change which can positively impact health outcomes.”

Professor Edward Gregg, inaugural Chair of Population Health at RCSI, said: “We are in a time of great change. We have seen how our lives, societies and economies can be upended when public health is threatened. We still face many challenges. For instance, cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory disease account for three-quarters of all deaths. Access to, and experiences of, healthcare services is uneven; while the elderly, the poor, refugees and migrants continue to experience health inequalities, a situation which has been exacerbated by COVID-19. Furthermore, climate change poses an enormous threat to global health.

“The root causes of public health are diverse, and extend beyond genes, biology and medical care, and depend on behaviour, social, economic, environmental and ecologic factors. That is why addressing these challenges requires a multi-disciplinary approach which explores the causes, as well as developing interventions that can make a difference.”

A wide network

The RCSI School of Population Health comprises the Department of Public Health and Epidemiology, Department of Health Psychology, Data Science Centre, Healthcare Outcomes Research Centre, Institute of Global Surgery and SPHeRE.

It includes some 70 academic, research and professional staff, as well as 25 PhD scholars. Population health scientists and researchers at RCSI have an impressive, multi-year track record undertaking impactful multidisciplinary research and collaborating with an extensive network of international and national partners.

RCSI is exclusively focused on education and research to drive improvements in human health worldwide. The university is a signatory to the UN Sustainable Development Goals Accord and is ranked in the world top 50 for its contribution to UN Sustainable Development Goal 3 in the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings 2022.

Watch video