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Emory University names new dean of Rollins School of Public Health

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Gana Ahn
Nikki B. Troxclair

M. Daniele Fallin, an internationally regarded researcher and educator, will join Emory University as the new James W. Curran Dean of Public Health at the Rollins School of Public Health.

ATLANTA - Emory University has appointed M. Daniele Fallin, PhD, an internationally regarded researcher and educator, as the new James W. Curran Dean of Public Health at the Rollins School of Public Health. Fallin will join Emory July 1, 2022. The announcement was made by Executive Vice President for Health Affairs and Emory Healthcare CEO Jonathan S. Lewin and Emory Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Ravi. V. Bellamkonda.

Fallin currently serves as chair of the Department of Mental Health for the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and is the Sylvia and Harold Halpert Professor and Bloomberg Centennial Professor. She holds joint appointments in the Bloomberg School’s Departments of Epidemiology and Biostatistics and the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine’s Departments of Medicine and Psychiatry. Fallin is also director of the Wendy Klag Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities and has led the center since its establishment by the Bloomberg School in 2013.

“I am excited to welcome Dr. Fallin as the next leader of the Rollins School of Public Health,” says Gregory L. Fenves, president of Emory University. “The Rollins School is globally recognized for its top-ranked programs, innovative research, and outstanding faculty who are transforming the landscape of public health. Dr. Fallin’s multidisciplinary expertise and many years of experience at the leading school of public health at Johns Hopkins University will elevate the Rollins School in the years ahead, building on the impressive foundation created by our faculty, researchers, and tremendous students.”

Fallin’s appointment follows an extensive international search. She will succeed James W. Curran, who joined the Rollins School of Public Health as dean and professor of epidemiology in 1995 following a 25-year career at the CDC. Rollins ranks among the most elite schools of public health in the country and ranks No. 4 by U.S. News & World Report among accredited schools and programs of public health and ranks No. 4 nationally for NIH funding.     

“Dr. Fallin is an exceptional genetic and environmental epidemiologist who has an impressive background as a researcher, educator and academic leader,” says Dr. Jonathan S. Lewin, executive vice president of health affairs at Emory University and CEO of Emory Healthcare. “I am confident the Rollins School of Public Health will continue its position as a global leader in public health education and research under Dr. Fallin’s leadership and will help us build upon the Woodruff Health Sciences Center’s reputation as one of the world’s foremost academic health centers.”

"I am excited to join the Rollins School of Public Health to support and amplify its outstanding work. Rollins has an incredible combination of excellence, a culture of kindness and passion for public health across the many dimensions of our field,” says Fallin. “The school has an impressive set of partners working to build and reinforce the public’s health including the CDC, Carter Center, Task Force for Global Health and many others. Atlanta is an ideal location, given the rich environment for learning at Emory and the proximity to such critical public health entities. Students at all levels, from undergraduates to executive leaders, are now searching for more information about public health, and Emory is able to provide knowledge and experiences to meet their needs.”

Fallin completed a bachelor of science degree from the University of Florida–Gainesville and earned a PhD in genetic epidemiology from Case Western Reserve University. She joined Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health as an assistant professor of epidemiology in 2000. She served as director of the genetic epidemiology area within epidemiology prior to becoming chair of the Department of Mental Health in 2013.

“We are in the midst of a pandemic and a renaissance in public health research, and Rollins School of Public Health is a thought leader helping us navigate this crisis. Dr. Fallin comes to us with leadership experience at another great school of public health, and she impressed us all with her collaborative style, strategic thinking and vision for the role of public health in promoting health and wellness, including mental health,” says Ravi V. Bellamkonda, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at Emory University.

“Dr. Fallin has a history of mentoring and supporting faculty, and of supporting impactful, large interdisciplinary research efforts. She also cares deeply about the educational mission of our public health school. So, we are excited to have Dr. Fallin help lead Rollins in the next decade, building on the excellence and great foundation that Dr. Curran and our faculty, staff and students have built over the last two decades,” notes Bellamkonda.

With more than 250 scientific publications that have been cited more than 22,000 times, Fallin focuses on applying genetic epidemiology methods to studies of neuropsychiatric disorders including autism, Alzheimer's disease, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and to developing applications and methods for genetic and epigenetic epidemiology, as applied to mental health and development.

Fallin has led multiple CDC- and NIH-funded projects regarding how environments, behaviors, genetic variation and epigenetic variation contribute to risk for psychiatric disease, particularly autism. She currently leads the B’more Healthy Brain and Child Development (HBCD) study, one of 25 sites of the NIH’s newly initiated HBCD study, where she also serves as an associate director of the administrative core to guide epidemiologic design.   

Known as a tireless advocate for public mental health, Fallin has built a portfolio of mental health research, education and practice in her current department and has also focused on the well-being, health and safety of faculty, staff and students. She has led numerous university-wide efforts at Johns Hopkins University to include a Student Mental Health and Wellness Task Force and the COVID Mental Health Task Force for the Bloomberg School of Public Health.

“Dr. Fallin has been an exceptional leader within our school and university, and I know Rollins will benefit from her experience, talents and dedication to training the next generation of public health professionals,” said Ellen J. MacKenzie, dean of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “She has been a consistent advocate for the importance of mental health in the public’s health and led a variety of efforts at the school and university level. I look forward to continuing to work with her as dean of the Rollins School of Public Health.” 

Fallin has also worked to promote mental health in the workplace, a critical area for public mental health, including recently joining the Luv u Project to establish a Center for Mental Health in the Workplace while partnering with other departments and divisions of Johns Hopkins University to create the NIOSH-funded POE Center (Johns Hopkins Psychosocial, Organizational, and Environmental Total Worker Health® Center in Mental Health).

“This is an important time for public health globally. We face enormous challenges including global infectious diseases like the current pandemic, climate effects on health and the toll chronic diseases are taking on our collective health, including mental illness and addiction. Yet, there is also incredible opportunity,” says Fallin. 

“The world is acutely aware of the importance of public health, and we have an opportunity to translate this awareness into action. I am thrilled to lead the Rollins School of Public Health at this critical time and excited about the impact we will continue to make.”