Leading epidemiologist and public health professional joins NYU from Michigan State University

Debra Furr-Holden
Debra Furr-Holden

NYU President Andrew Hamilton and Provost Katherine Fleming today announced the appointment of C. Debra M. Furr-Holden as the dean of the University’s School of Global Public Health, effective July 1, 2022.

An epidemiologist and public health professional with expertise in health disparities and health equity research, policy and practice, drug and alcohol dependence epidemiology, psychiatric epidemiology, and prevention science, Professor Furr-Holden comes to NYU from Michigan State University, where she is the C.S. Mott Endowed Professor of Public Health, associate dean for Public Health Integration, and the director of the NIH-funded Flint Center for Health Equity Solutions at MSU’s College of Human Medicine.

President Hamilton said, “Seldom have public health challenges felt more pressing.  The COVID-19 pandemic has caused more than 6 million deaths worldwide and created enormous disruption, often in ways that have added to—or were exacerbated by—pre-existing inequities in health systems. Debra Furr-Holden—with her extensive experience working with local and national policymakers; her scholarship, expertise, and commitment to service; her ability to listen and skill at team-building; her success as a mentor; her energy and charisma; and her exceptional talent as a communicator on public health and health equity issues—is just the right person to lead our school of public health at this moment.  We are delighted she is joining NYU.”

Professor Furr-Holden joined the faculty at MSU in 2016 as an endowed professor.  Prior to that, she was an assistant (2007) and later associate (2011) professor at Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health, where she has retained an appointment as an adjunct professor.  Before Johns Hopkins, she had been a research scientist at the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (a global non-profit research organization) and a faculty member at Morgan State University.

She is the recipient of numerous awards and honors—including the White House Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine Junior Faculty Mentoring Award, and the Meeting the Moment for Public Health Award, recognizing the Michigan Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities of which she is a founding member.  She is a widely published scholar; her writings include more than 120 peer-reviewed papers in high impact journals; in 2021 she published a seminal article in Addiction that highlighted racial disparities in opioid overdose deaths over the past two decades.   

She received her BA from Johns Hopkins University’s Krieger School of Arts & Sciences, and her PhD from Hopkins’ School of Hygiene and Public Health (now the Bloomberg School of Public Health).

President Hamilton also said, “The wonderful news of Debra Furr-Holden’s appointment should be accompanied by two important expressions of appreciation.  First, Provost Fleming and I want to express our deep gratitude to all the members of the search committee, and especially its chair, Professor Melody Goodman. Their many hours of effort in helping to identify candidates for the deanship was a great service.  Second, we want to thank Founding Dean Cheryl Healton.  Few tasks are more demanding than being the founding dean of a new school at a university; NYU’s School of Global Public Health was truly fortunate to have Cheryl in that role.”

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John Beckman
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