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About Preventive Medicine

History and Mission

Established in 1939, the Department of Preventive Medicine is integral to the University of Tennessee Health Science Center's mission "to improve human health through education, research, and public service, with an emphasis on improving the health of Tennesseans." In the early 1970s, this department was instrumental in Memphis/Shelby County in developing one of the nation's premier community-based, nurse-run, chronic-disease treatment programs, designed and initiated by John W. Runyan, Jr., MD, department chair from 1972 to 1994.

The department's clinical research expanded while William B. Applegate, MD, MPH, was chair from 1994 to 1999. During this period, the Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology merged with the Department of Preventive Medicine, strengthening research and other initiatives. Grant W. Somes, PhD, the chair during 2000-2010, continued this progress and expanded the department's teaching mission through the Master of Science in Epidemiology program.

From 2010 to 2014, Dr. Karen Johnson served as interim chair of the department. Under her leadership, the department continued to diversify and expand. In 2012, we have added a Certificate in Clinical Investigation program that has been extremely popular with active clinicians. We are currently retooling our MS in Epidemiology to make it a Masters in Clinical Investigation to meet demand from clinicians. On August 1, 2014, Dr. Teresa Waters became the permanent chair of the department. She served until October 2017. 

Dr. Katherin Womack is currently the interim chair. A nation-wide search for a new chair is in process.

Last Published: May 10, 2018