2022 photo of entire Dept. of Health Policy

The Department's mission is to inform health policy and improve health and health care through research, education, and service. 

The Department offers the M.P.H. degree, including tracks in Health Policy, Global Health and Epidemiology, and a Ph.D. program, which offers full funding to students, and the opportunity to collaborate and work across disciplines at Vanderbilt.

Vanderbilt University's Department of Health Policy is a broad and diverse group of health policy faculty and staff who are conducting world-class health services research, impacting health policy solutions that have and could have a profound impact in numerous areas of public health. The Department builds on a history of strong collaborative relationships with the Tennessee Department of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and local, state, national and global policy makers to develop health policy solutions for our pressing health care challenges.

The combination of a major research university and preeminent medical center gives Department faculty incredible opportunities to build relationships with frontline care providers and policymakers which can lead to breakthrough discoveries.  The Department fosters a deep belief that research and innovative thinking should guide health policy relationships and help policymakers understand implications. 

The Department offers two graduate-level degrees, an M.P.H. degree, including a Health Policy Track, and accepts candidate applications for its Ph.D. in Health Policy & Health Services Research from July-December each year for enrollment in the next year's fall academic term (i.e.: Fall 2022 applicants enrolled and began their PhD in Fall 2023).


  • The Department of Health Policy is a reorganized form of Vanderbilt’s Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, which began in 1924. The Department of Health Policy was formed in 2013 with a mission to inform health policy and improve health and health care through research, education, and service.

    Department Chairs:

    Department of Health Policy

    Dr. Melinda Buntin, 2013 – present

    Department of Preventive Medicine

    Dr. William Schaffner, 1982 – 2013
    Dr. Charles Federspiel, (Interim Chair) 1978 – 1982 
    Dr. Robert Quinn, 1952 – 1978

    Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health

    Dr. William Fry, 1945 – 1948
    Dr. Alvin Keller, 1948 – 1952
    Dr. Waller Leathers, 1924 – 1945

  • Mission

    The Department's mission is to inform health policy and improve health and health care through research, education, and service.

    To achieve these aims, we must:

    • Educate and prepare the next generation of exemplary health policy researchers;
    • Identify, investigate and disseminate effective solutions to complex health policy challenges;
    • Translate research into effective practices and sound policies; and
    • Serve our local, state and national health care community through engagement, education, and application of solutions 


  • Faculty research interests include:

    • Health care financing, access, reform, utilization and coverage
    • Implications of national, state and local policy changes, including to programs such as Medicare and Medicaid
    • Aging, long-term care, and end–of-life care
    • Health care quality and safety
    • Health delivery system improvement
    • Health economics and disparities
    • Provider payment reform
    • Health services research
    • Pharmacoepidemiology
    • Global health
    • ​Cancer epidemiology
    • Infectious diseases
  • The department has an established Masters of Public Health (MPH) offering three tracks: Epidemiology, Global Health, and  Health Policy.  Its collocation in the School of Medicine has meant that several of its students participate via a five year MD/MPH dual degree.

    A doctoral program in Health Policy is planned, with faculty already working with MPH students and doctoral candidates from other departments who have an interest developing expertise in health policy.

    The MPH program celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2016.

    For more information, please visit the MPH website here.


  • Recognizing that the impact of health policy is felt in many different disciplines, the Department has formed dynamic relationships with several other University departments by conferring secondary appointments to faculty whose work encompasses health policy implications. These formal associations leverage the combined University and Medical Center campus and allow Department faculty to easily work across schools and centers.

    Departments in which we’ve given secondary appointments to faculty:

    School of Medicine

    • Department of Anesthesiology
    • Department of Biostatistics
    • Department of Medicine (Cardiovascular Medicine, Center for Health Services Research; Gastroenterology, Hepatology, & Nutrition; General Internal Medicine and Public Health; Infectious Diseases)
    • Department of Pediatrics
    • Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Services
    • Department of Urologic Surgery
    • Institute for Global Health
    • Institute for Medicine and Public Health

    College of Arts and Science

    • Center for Medicine, Health, and Society
    • Department of Economics

    Owen Graduate School of Management

    Peabody College of Education and Human Development

    • Department of Human and Organizational Development
  • The mission of the Institute for Medicine and Public Health is to improve personal and public health through discovery, training and service programs aimed to protect against threats to health, promote healthier living, improve the quality of health services, and prepare leaders to advance health and healthcare. The work of The Institute for Medicine and Public Health is conducted by its member and affiliated Centers, Institutes and Programs. The Department of Health Policy is a member of this growing community of researchers, teachers and experts are working collaboratively to address important health care issues, generate innovative hypotheses, and expedite discovery and dissemination of new knowledge. The Institute serves to motivate, educate and support investigators and educators who will translate new evidence into health care practice, thereby improving personal and community health.

    Please visit the IMPH website for more information.