Message From the Interim Chair

S. Patrick Kachur, MD, MPH

S. Patrick Kachur, MD, MPH

I am delighted to be serving as the Interim Chair of The Heilbrunn Department of Population and Family Health (HDPFH). My career in domestic and global public health practice has been driven by the same commitment to overcoming disparities, enhancing equity, and advancing the right to health and quality health services that defines the Department’s work and vision. For decades, HDPFH’s groundbreaking implementation science and real-world 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 both here in our local New York City communities and around the globe.

We are clinicians, human rights advocates, qualitative and quantitative scientists, program developers, evaluators, implementers, and activists who strive to shape equitable policy and practice in partnership with communities. Our Department aims to develop the evidence that can prevent or lift populations out of health-related adversities. And we work with those same community partners to ensure that the tremendous promise of public health can benefit everyone.

As the Department’s Vice Chair for Education, I have worked to ensure that the same values that shape our scholarship and practice are reflected in our curriculum. Our degree programs equip our students for global leadership and action. Our graduates are creating a public health and humanitarian workforce that will overcome health inequities for decades to come. Our research and pedagogy related to sexual and reproductive health and rights respond to the current dynamic political environment and our collective potential to reshape that environment. Our program of training and fieldwork on forced migration is a one-of-a-kind global resource that has blazed an impressive trail and continues to focus on issues of gender, human rights, and immigrant health in the U.S. Our domestic and global efforts are improving health systems in fragile, unstable, inequitable, and low-income settings. We are expanding our work to reduce environmental exposures and injustices that impact children, and to decrease intolerable maternal mortality rates in this country as well as others. Using technology, multiple scientific methods, interdisciplinary approaches, and theoretical models, and both legal and human rights frameworks, our faculty, staff, students, and graduates respond to policies and systemic failures that adversely affect vulnerable populations.

As Interim Chair, I intend to work with all of our Department’s faculty, staff, and students—as well as faculty and students across the School—so that our research, practice, and educational initiatives continue to 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.


S. Patrick Kachur, MD, MPH
Interim Chair, Heilbrunn Department of Population and Family Health
Professor of Population and Family Health
Mailman School of Public Health
Columbia University Irving Medical Center