Message from the Chair

I am immensely proud and humbled to be the Chair of The Heilbrunn Department of Population and Family Health (HDPFH). My commitment to human rights and human dignity, along with a history of creating interdisciplinary approaches to solving pressing health threats, align with the Department’s work and vision. Historically, HDPFH’s groundbreaking implementation science and practice in sexual and reproductive health and rights, forced migration, child and adolescent health, environmental justice, and complex health systems have been critical to improving health outcomes. Our Department creates the evidence to shift and inform policy and practice and in partnership with communities globally through multidisciplinary approaches. We seek to develop the evidence of what will prevent or lift populations out of health-related adversities. 

In the coming months, we will revitalize our curriculum to make sure our students are receiving an education geared towards global leadership and action. Our research and pedagogy related to sexual and reproductive health and rights will respond to the current dynamic political environment and the potential of our Department to shape that environment. Our forced migration work will continue its impressive global trajectory while also deepening its focus on gender, human rights, and immigrant health in the U.S. We will continue to forge ahead on improving health systems in fragile, unstable, inequitable, and low-income settings. We need to expand our work in reducing environmental exposures and injustices that impact children, decrease alarming maternal mortality rates in this country, and continue to improve health systems around the world. Using technology, multiple scientific methods, interdisciplinary approaches, and both legal and human rights frameworks, we will respond to the policy shifts that will adversely affect vulnerable populations.

As Chair, I intend to work with all of our Department’s faculty and staff—as well as faculty and students across the School—so that our research and practice can thrive. HDPFH stands firm in its commitment to health as an essential component of human rights and dignity. Together, we can achieve this goal and work towards solving existing and future public health challenges.


Terry McGovern, JD
Professor and Chair
Heilbrunn Department of Population and Family Health

July 2018