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Saturday, February 4, 2023

Rhode Island's loss is Yale's gain

Brown physician-scientist Dr. Megan Ranney appointed dean of Yale School of Public Health

Respected national voice on public health issues ranging from the pandemic to health equity to gun control

Brown University

After nearly two decades at Brown University as a medical resident, graduate student, professor and academic leader, Dr. Megan L. Ranney has been named dean of the Yale School of Public Health. Ranney will step down from her current role as deputy dean of Brown’s School of Public Health effective July 1, 2023.

A prominent advocate with an international reputation for innovative approaches to health and patient care, Ranney is a physician-scientist who has held faculty appointments at Brown’s Warren Alpert Medical School since 2008 and at Brown’s School of Public Health since its inception in 2013. 

She is a practicing emergency physician, researcher and educator with a particular focus on intersections among digital health, violence prevention and population health.

Ranney is a leading public voice on urgent topics in health and medicine ranging from COVID-19 to firearm injury, to mental health, to working conditions for health care providers, offering expert analysis through testimony to Congress, appearances on broadcast news networks, op-eds in major media outlets  and guidance for non-governmental organizations. 

Her career is distinguished by a deep commitment to working with patients and communities to address complex public health and medical challenges, especially those that burden members of historically underserved populations.

Ronald Aubert, interim dean of Brown’s School of Public Health, said Ranney has been a remarkable public health leader at Brown, in Rhode Island and nationally, as well as a dedicated mentor and teacher to aspiring physicians and public health professionals studying at the University.

“Megan has been a tireless advocate for patients, students, fellow faculty and medical practitioners — and for advancing creative ideas and approaches to public health,” Aubert said. “Her scholarship has had a significant impact on real-world issues facing patients, and she’s inspired and informed everyone from students at Brown to people across the country who count on her expert analysis on timely health issues. She’s been a champion for the mission of the School of Public Health, and we’re grateful for the extensive impact she’s had on our community.”

Ranney came to Brown in 2004, completing her medical residency in emergency medicine and a fellowship in Injury Prevention Research. She has served as an attending physician at the Miriam Hospital and Rhode Island Hospital in Providence since 2008, the year she joined Brown’s Warren Alpert Medical School faculty in the Department of Emergency Medicine. 

She earned a master in public health from Brown in 2010, and in 2013, became an assistant professor in the Department of Health Services, Policy and Practice in the School of Public Health. She has since held academic appointments in both schools.

In 2019, Ranney became the founding director of the Brown-Lifespan Center for Digital Health, a center where creative minds from Brown and its affiliated hospital partners collaboratively design, test and deploy digital solutions to challenges that affect the health of patients and populations.

Ranney said she’ll depart for Yale with both great excitement about the opportunities ahead and lifelong memories from Brown, the university she has called home for the better part of two decades.

“What an honor to have been part of this institution for 20 years, and to have been with the School of Public Health since its formal inception and throughout its journey,” Ranney said. “I am immensely grateful to my colleagues and teachers in emergency medicine and at the School of Public Health, and to President Christina Paxson, whose model of leadership is part of what inspired me to move into higher education leadership.”

[Brown] is a place that fosters innovation and cares deeply about making a positive impact and collaborating with communities. Collaboration across disparate fields is core to who we are as Brown faculty, and I hope to bring that Brunonian ethos with me moving forward.

Ranney said she has deeply valued Brown’s collaborative approach to scholarship, and the opportunity to work with students, from undergraduates to post-doctoral scholars, and faculty across a wide variety of disciplines —not only at the School of Public Health and the Warren Alpert Medical School, but also the School of Engineering, the departments of computer science and economics, and others.

“I feel so lucky to have not only completed my training here, but to have spent my academic career at a place as innovative and open-minded as Brown,” Ranney said. “This is a place that fosters innovation and cares deeply about making a positive impact and collaborating with communities. Collaboration across disparate fields is core to who we are as Brown faculty, and I hope to bring that Brunonian ethos with me moving forward.”

At Yale, Ranney will serve as the dean of the School of Public Health, which has traditionally functioned as a department within Yale’s School of Medicine and is transitioning to operating as an autonomous, self-supporting school with financial and administrative independence. As dean, Ranney will lead the School of Public Health through the transition and is charged with inspiring and implementing a unifying vision for the future success of its scholars and students.

Yale President Peter Salovey announced Ranney’s appointment in a Jan. 31 letter to the full Yale community.

“Professor Ranney is an internationally recognized public health leader, investigator, advocate and clinician-scientist,” Salovey wrote. “She brings to Yale a distinguished track record of driving innovations in public health teaching, research and practice… Professor Ranney is looking forward to drawing on her extensive career experiences to lead the Yale School of Public Health [and] she will work with colleagues and students to set a bold and inclusive vision for the future of public health.”

Leadership during national crisis

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Ranney served on the front lines in the emergency departments at the Miriam Hospital and Rhode Island Hospital. She co-founded, a startup dedicated to matching donated personal protective equipment to those who need it most. By the time it ceased operations in July 2021 as shortages decreased, had delivered more than 17 million pieces of PPE to health care providers.

As a medical analyst for CNN and a regular commentator in other national media, Ranney provided evidence-backed advice that helped explain COVID-19 topics to the general public. Known for her ability to synthesize data and human stories on complicated health issues, she continues to be an in-demand speaker.

Ranney has also been outspoken about the need to approach gun violence as a public health issue, with physicians playing an important role — an issue at the core of her research on firearm injury prevention. Among a number of roles related to violence prevention, she co-founded the American Foundation for Firearm Injury Reduction in Medicine at the Aspen Institute and is a board member of the Nonviolence Institute in Providence.

In addition to her Brown MPH, Ranney earned a bachelor’s degree in history of science from Harvard University and her M.D. from Columbia University. Her work has been supported by the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, American Public Health Association, and many other organizations.

Ranney is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine and a fellow of the American College of Emergency Physicians.