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About Preventive Medicine


The mission of the Department of Preventive Medicine is to improve human health through research, education, and public service. The Department’s mission is integrated with the broader mission of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, to bring the benefits of the health science to the citizens of Tennessee and beyond through education, research, clinical care, and public service.


The research goal of the Department of Preventive Medicine is to conduct clinical, health services, and community based health research. Areas of present interest involve the major health concerns of the region, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, neurocognitive development, obesity, diabetes, health of underserved populations, and maternal and child health.

The education goal of the Department of Preventive Medicine is mediated through implementation of Masters level training in epidemiology, and Certificate programs in clinical research.  The Certificate program has been extremely popular in meeting the demands of active clinicians. The Department is also home for the Biostatics, Epidemiology and Research Design (BERD) Clinic.


Previous chairs of the Department of Preventive Medicine include:

  • 1972-1994: John W. Runyan, Jr., MD
  • 1994-1999: William B. Applegate, MD, MPH
  • 2000-2010: Grant W. Somes, PhD
  • 2010-2014: Karen Johnson, MD, MPH
  • 2014-2017: Teresa Waters, PhD
  • 2017-2018: Catherine Womack, MD
  • 2018-2019: Jay H. Fowke, PhD, MPH
  • 2019-present: Karen Johnson, MD, MPH

The Department of Preventive Medicine was instrumental in Memphis/Shelby County in developing one of the nation's premier community-based, nurse-run, chronic-disease treatment programs. The Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology merged with the Department of Preventive Medicine in the 1990’s to strengthen the research initiative in the College of Medicine. In 2012, we added a Certificate in Clinical Investigation program to our on-going MS in Epidemiology program. 

May 26, 2022