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Department of Preventive Medicine


The Department of Preventive Medicine is part of the College of Medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. The department includes biostatisticians, epidemiologists, physicians, psychologists, and professionals of other fields whose work is oriented toward disease prevention and health promotion.


Established in 1939, the Department of Preventive Medicine is integral to the UT 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, the 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., M.D., department chair from 1972 to 1994. The department's clinical research expanded while William B. Applegate, M.D., M.P.H., 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. Karen Johnson, M.D., M.P.H., professor and interim chair, continues the progress of the department's teaching mission through the Master of Science in Epidemiology program. With her leadership, the Department of Preventive Medicine emphasizes prevention-sciences scholarship, education, and community outreach. The Department of Preventive Medicine is also involved in a number of National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded, clinical studies designed to prevent disease and promote health.