LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Craig H. Blakely, Ph.D., M.P.H., dean of the University of Louisville School of Public Health and Information Sciences, has been appointed to the Defense Health Board, which advises the Secretary of Defense on matters relating to health for retired and active members of the military and their families.
“It is an honor to be nominated for this federal advisory post,” Blakely said. “Members of the Defense Health Board have incredible responsibilities overseeing the health, broadly defined, of the entire set of armed forces.”
Most of the board’s 18 members are retired high-ranking military personnel and physicians. Blakely, whose four-year appointment began in August when he attended his first quarterly meeting of the board, is the only member whose primary expertise is public health.
“Population health offers a different perspective from clinical medicine. When we incorporate prevention and policy efforts into the dialogue, we can influence health outcomes in significant ways,” Blakely said.
The Defense Health Board (DHB) makes recommendations and provides independent advice on operational programs, health policy development, health research programs, requirements for the treatment and prevention of disease and injury, promotion of health and the delivery of health care to Department of Defense beneficiaries.
“Dr. Blakely’s nomination to this board attests to the depth and breadth of his understanding of public health. His service on this national platform will only enhance the work he is doing here in Louisville and increase the impact our university may have on health policy not only across the nation but around the world,” said David L. Dunn, M.D., Ph.D., executive vice president for health affairs at UofL.
Blakely expects his knowledge of public health will allow him to make a contribution to the ‘big picture issues’ addressed by the board, but he foresees the city and the university also benefitting from insights he will have into the concerns facing the military relating to emergency preparedness and global health issues.
“There are lots of distribution, access and preventive issues that are the same kinds of things we do in the private sector. We still need to worry about health and vitality and obesity, and there are nutritional issues and all kinds of related questions that come up,” Blakely said. “However, we are always interested in whatever we can learn in the defense area that has applications for the private sector as well, so it’s a two-way street.”
Blakely joined UofL as dean of the School of Public Health and Information Sciences in 2013. He has overseen the UofL Office of Public Health Practice’s move into West Louisville and is the driving force behind a program to offer a UofL master of public health degree in Lahore, Pakistan.
Prior to his arrival in Louisville, Blakely served for 26 years at the School of Rural Public Health at Texas A&M Health Sciences Center, most recently as dean. He earned a doctorate at Michigan State University in 1981 and a master of public health at the University of Texas in 1992. He has published more than 40 articles and books on public health topics. He has served on the Nigeria Centers for Disease Control International Advisory Panel and is on the board of directors for the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health.