2019 in review

2019 Year in Review

As we welcome 2020, we’re taking a look back at some of 2019’s most popular stories from the School of Public Health.

The Opioid Crisis

Faculty and students in the School of Public Health are working every day to understand the opioid epidemic and to create evidence-based interventions that reduce harm and speed recovery.

  • Professor Brandon Marshall contributed to a JAMA article that found a link between the marketing of opioids to doctors and county-level opioid overdose deaths.

Read at vox.com

  • Researchers found that people who use heroin are concerned about fentanyl, want to be able to test their drugs for fentanyl, and would change their drug-use behavior if they knew there was fentanyl in the heroin—sometimes discarding the product.

Read in the Philadelphia Inquirer

  • Professors Brandon Marshall and Josiah Rich joined other local experts and ABC6 for Addiction Hitting Home: Where We Stand Now, a panel discussion on the latest information on the opioid epidemic in our communities.

Watch the video

  • A mass spectrometer initially designed as a counterterrorism tool is being deployed in the fight against fentanyl. Professor Traci Green is evaluating its use.

Read or watch at ABC News

Alzheimer’s disease

2019 was a milestone year at the School, marked by receipt of the largest federal grant in Brown University history.

  • A $53.4M grant to Brown and Hebrew SeniorLife will enable massive expansion of Alzheimer’s research, funding a collaborative research incubator to support trials across the nation aimed at improving care for people living with dementia.

Learn more

  • The results of a national study finds PET scans to detect Alzheimer’s-related plaques affects the diagnosis and management of patients with mild cognitive impairment and dementia.

Learn more


The Mindfulness Center at Brown, established in 2017, may be one of the School’s newest research centers, but stories about their work were some of the year’s most popular.

  • A study finds that mindfulness could reduce blood pressure by enhancing attention control, emotion regulation, and self-awareness of both healthy and unhealthy habits.

Learn more

  • Researchers find that a mindfulness-based smartphone app designed to help people stop smoking was effective at reducing participants’ cigarette consumption, with those who reduced their smoking the most showing decreased brain reactivity to smoking images.

Learn more

  • Professor Jud Brewer spoke to the Chicago Tribune about what mindfulness is and is not (hint: It isn’t about being happy all the time).

Read the article

Gun Violence

Dr. Megan Ranney, professor of health services, policy and practice, and chief research officer of the American Foundation for Firearm Injury Reduction in Medicine (AFFIRM), is a pioneer advocate for treating gun violence as a public health challenge.

  • Dr. Ranney’s Time Magazine opinion, “The Dangers of Linking Gun Violence and Mental Illness.”

Read the opinion piece

  • Commentary by Dr. Ranney and colleagues in the New England Journal of Medicine, “#ThisIsOurLane — Firearm Safety as Health Care’s Highway”

Read the commentary

  • Study finds that research on firearm injuries to U.S. children receives 30 times less funding per death than other causes.

Learn more

Student Achievement

We are inspired by our students every day of the year! Here are a few extra special stories from 2019 about how they impacted public health.

  • Brown's new Philippine Health Initiative — spearheaded by MPH student Alex Adia — will formalize collaboration among faculty and students researching the health outcomes of Filipinos and Filipino Americans.

Learn more

Watch or read the Democracy Now interview

  • Each year nearly a dozen students successfully defend their dissertations in public health. 2019 was particularly special because it was the graduation year of the first two students to ever complete the PhD in Behavioral and Social Health Sciences, Jessica Emerson and Harold Lee.

Learn more about the BSHS doctoral program

  • MPH student Isabel Blalock testified in support of the Reproductive Health Care Act before the Rhode Island House Judiciary Committee in March. The Committee voted in favor of the legislation 9-to-7. State lawmakers passed the bill in June and Gov. Raimondo signed it into law immediately, preserving “the status quo” on abortion in Rhode Island, no matter what the future holds for the Roe v. Wade.

Read in the Providence Journal

  • Doctoral student Ashleigh LoVette, recipient of the 2018 Mariam K. Chamberlain Dissertation Award from the International Center for Research on Women presented "Resilience, Gender Health: Examining connections in the context of sustained HIV risk" at the Center's Insights to Action event in Washington, DC.

Learn more

Learn more