Public Health Leader to Serve as SPHHS Dean

Lynn Goldman, professor of environmental health sciences at Johns Hopkins University, has been appointed the new dean of GW’s School of Public Health and Health Services.

May 26, 2010

Dr. Lynn Goldman

Lynn Goldman gained an appreciation for the environment as a child gathering seashells on the beach and watching pelicans near her home in Galveston, Texas. But at night near Galveston, she would notice the smells and smoke from nearby petrochemical refineries and the multicolored flames spewing from their smoke stacks.

Years later, in a classroom at the University of California, Berkeley, Dr. Goldman learned that the rate of certain cancers was much higher than average in areas near her town and in similar areas across the country.

This discovery—combined with a passion for the environment and prevention of developmental disabilities— has guided Dr. Goldman through an almost 30-year career in children’s medicine, environmental health and health services.

And in August, Dr. Goldman faces her next challenge as the new dean GW’s School of Public Health and Health Services.

“I think that GW’s School of Public Health and Health Services is wonderfully positioned to be able to make an impact on public health and on public health education in this country,” she says.

“We have many students who work in and around the government and we have a wonderful faculty that has been very influential, especially in health care reform. The school’s proximity to international institutions also provides us with many opportunities in global health,” she says. “From local to national to global--what more could you ask for?”

“With her breadth of experience in the field of children’s environmental health, public health practice and chemical regulatory policy, as well as her distinguished career in government, Dr. Lynn Goldman is ideally suited to lead our rapidly emerging School of Public Health and Health Services,” said GW President Steven Knapp.

Josef Reum has served as interim dean of the School of Public Health and Health Services since September 2008. Dr. Reum is a professor of health policy.

Dr. Goldman most recently served as a professor of environmental health sciences at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, dual principal investigator for the National Center of Excellence for the Study of Preparedness and Catastrophic Event Response and principal investigator for Hopkins’ National Children’s Study Center.

In 1993, Dr. Goldman was the first physician appointed by President Bill Clinton and confirmed by the Senate to serve as assistant administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances, where she worked to overhaul the nation’s pesticides laws, promote children’s health issues; and further the international agenda for global chemical safety.

Prior to joining the EPA, Dr. Goldman served in several positions at the California Department of Health Services, including head of the Division of Environmental and Occupational Disease Control. She has conducted public health investigations on pesticides, childhood lead poisoning and other environmental hazards.

Dr. Goldman is a member of the Institute of Medicine. She has served on numerous boards and expert committees and is currently vice chair of the Institute of Medicine Roundtable on Environmental Health Sciences and chair of the Institute of Medicine’s Gulf War and Health Study.

Always fascinated by the connection between health and the environment, Dr. Goldman says she first became aware of the challenges of public health during her time as a volunteer at the Berkeley Free Clinic. “I very much enjoyed my time there, but at the same time became very frustrated taking care of people who were in desperately bad situations, patching them up, and sending them out into the same conditions that made them sick in the first place,” she says. “It was then I became very committed to public health and to assuring the conditions to make people healthier.”

Dr. Goldman holds a bachelor’s degree in conservation of natural resources from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master’s of public health from the Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health. Dr. Goldman also earned a master’s in health and medical sciences from the University of California, Berkeley, and an M.D. from the University of California, San Francisco. She completed a residency in pediatrics at Children’s Hospital Oakland.

Reflecting upon the many hats she’s worn during her career, Dr. Goldman says she has been the most interested in the “invisible” environmental problems, such as lead poisoning, pesticide residues in food and chemicals in everyday products.

“People expect that when they turn on a tap to get water or buy food in a restaurant and supermarket, they will be safe,” says Dr. Goldman. “Much of environmental health is concerned with making sure that our food and water are safe and that our air is clean.”

“I am passionate about involving public health scientists in the policy process,” she adds. “We need to bring the best available scientific evidence to inform policy. We also need policy experts, educators, communicators, behavioral scientists and engineers, to help identify the best approaches to solving problems, whether through regulations, changing behavior, educating or the invention of new technologies.”

Dr. Goldman says her versatile career experience has also given her a firsthand understanding of the skills public health students need upon graduation, knowledge she says “is very exciting to impart to students.”

In her spare time, Dr. Goldman enjoys reading, music, and outdoor activities with her husband, Douglas Hayward, and their 13-year-old daughter Hannah. She also gardens and spends time with her dog, cat and birds.

At GW, Dr. Goldman plans to focus on building upon the connections the university already has in place with federal agencies and international institutions headquartered in the District. She also seeks to advance policy development work as well as develop training and support within scientific organizations.

“Washington, D.C., is a laboratory for public health practice. It has all of the typical problems we see across the country and worldwide, including a number of urban health issues and health disparities,” she says. “I’m also very excited about the idea of working with Dr. Knapp. I knew him at John Hopkins and have tremendous regard for him. He and I see an opportunity to turn things up a notch in terms of raising the level of excellence in faculty, students and research of the university, and GW’s School of Public Health and Health Services can play a role in that.”