Data Leadership at the School of Public Health

A gift from Indra Nooyi ’80 MPPM and Raj Nooyi will help train tomorrow’s public health leaders by creating an endowed fund and supporting a collaborative program with the School of Management.

Indra Nooyi ’80 MPPM and Raj Nooyi
Raj Nooyi and Indra Nooyi ’80 MPPM
Indra Nooyi ’80 MPPM and Raj Nooyi
Raj Nooyi and Indra Nooyi ’80 MPPM

Public health researchers are always seeking reliable data to help promote better health for all people. Collecting and analyzing novel data leads to robust conclusions and innovations that save lives, from identifying new cancer treatments to creating guidelines reducing pollution’s health impact. That’s why the Yale School of Public Health (YSPH) has long emphasized both data science and data-driven health leadership.

A new two-part gift to YSPH builds on this data focus, while supporting an ongoing, collaborative educational program with the Yale School of Management. The gift, from former PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi ’80 MPPM and her husband Raj Nooyi, will advance the school’s efforts to train students as leaders in data-driven improvement of people’s wellbeing at local, national, and global scales. The Nooyis have previously supported YSPH with an endowed professorship.

“I am so grateful to Indra and Raj for their strategic, farsighted support of these two important programs,” says Megan Ranney, dean of the Yale School of Public Health. “We can’t be great public health data science leaders without investment—or without partnerships.”

Leading the Way with Data

“The Yale School of Public Health has a long track record of doing data-driven, impactful research on everything from COVID-19 to gun violence, and in educating informed leaders who can tackle the most pressing public health issues of today,” says Indra Nooyi. “That track record was a significant factor in our decision to support the school.”

The Nooyis’ gift creates an endowed data science resource fund that can be used to advance teaching and research. Recent data science studies at YSPH developed new frameworks for evaluating the effectiveness of large scale public health interventions and showed that RSV vaccines would decrease illness and death if deployed like flu shots. In April, the school held an international gathering to improve equity in accessing and using high-quality health data. But as sources of data explode and artificial intelligence becomes more powerful, YSPH must do more to stay a leader in the field.

Dean Ranney notes that the gift has already had an impact, enabling Yale to recruit one of the globe’s most influential public health data scientists. “Dr. Bhramar Mukherjee works at the cutting edge of public health data collection and analysis, with an eye towards global data equity,” Ranney says. “Her recruitment advances our goal of leading the future of public health data science.”

A Collaborative Degree

A portion of the Nooyis’ gift supports the continued success of the Health Care Management Program, run by YSPH and the Yale School of Management (SOM). Students take classes at both schools, earning a master of public health (MPH) degree in healthcare management and sometimes also an MBA. Graduates of the program have gone on to be leaders of hospitals, public health systems, and health startups.

Howard Forman, a professor at both schools and a practicing clinician at Yale New Haven Hospital, directs the program. “Our program is the best in the country, but needs support to remain financially affordable to students,” notes Forman. One of its marquee activities is a yearly conference that brings over 500 people working in public health and healthcare to SOM, including many current students and alumni of the Health Care Management Program; it just celebrated its twentieth year. “The conference draws on academic rigor but emphasizes practice,” says Forman. “It’s a place where alumni and students can learn from each other.”

Ranney notes that YSPH is Yale’s newest independent school; it has recently transitioned from being a department of the Yale School of Medicine. “That means gifts like these have an outsize impact. Indra and Raj’s gift allows our school to continue to grow as a world leader of public health.”

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