New UF College of Public Health and Health Professions dean named

Andara Puchino

Beth Virnig, Ph.D., M.P.H.Beth Virnig, Ph.D., M.P.H., has been named dean of the University of Florida College of Public Health and Health Professions, the sixth in the college’s 64-year history.

Virnig, who joins UF on July 11, currently serves as a professor in the division of health policy and management at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health and as director and lead of the school’s Strategic Global Public Health Programming, where she guides efforts with partner universities in Thailand, India, Mexico and Ghana.

“Dr. Virnig brings a long and distinguished record of leadership, research, teaching, mentoring and service to her new role,” said David R. Nelson, M.D., senior vice president for health affairs at UF and president of UF Health. “The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated, like never before, the value and impact of the College of Public Health and Health Professions’ research, education and service endeavors on the health of Floridians and beyond. I look forward to watching the college’s continued growth and development under Dr. Virnig’s leadership.”

With the University of Minnesota since 1998, Virnig has held numerous leadership roles in the School of Public Health, including senior associate dean for academic affairs and research. She is the director of the Research Data Assistance Center, or ResDAC, a Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services-funded program that provides free assistance to academic, government and nonprofit researchers interested in using Medicare and Medicaid data in their work.

“Dr. Virnig has demonstrated she is a collaborative leader who understands the importance of working across health disciplines and the entire university in order to best serve the needs of our students and communities,” Nelson said. “I am confident that Dr. Virnig’s leadership will result in exciting new opportunities for the College of Public Health and Health Professions.”

Virnig succeeds Michael G. Perri, Ph.D., who has led the college for the past 15 years and overseen the expansion of its academic portfolio. The college enrolls nearly 3,000 students across 20 degree programs at the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels. The college generates $45 million annually in extramural research and is ranked ninth in National Institutes of Health research funding among schools of public health at public universities. Faculty members work on projects throughout the state and abroad on diverse topics such as dementia, diabetes, addiction, obesity, pain, muscular dystrophy, driving safety and infectious diseases.

Virnig’s research examines how patient factors and system factors combine to influence care and outcomes. Her research focuses on cancer care, women’s health, end-of-life care, and the measurement of racial and ethnic disparities in care and health outcomes among Medicare beneficiaries. Virnig’s work has been funded by the National Cancer Institute, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. She serves on the American Cancer Society’s Council for Extramural Research. She is the author or co-author of more than 200 peer-reviewed articles, including an article on breast cancer surgery that was named one of the 10 best papers of the decade (1999-2009) by the American Society of Breast Surgeons.

She earned both her Ph.D. and M.P.H. in epidemiology from the University of Minnesota. Prior to joining the University of Minnesota, Virnig held positions at the University of Miami and Dartmouth Medical School’s Center for Evaluative Clinical Sciences.

“I am thrilled to join the University of Florida College of Public Health and Health Professions, and I am excited to become part of the Gator Nation and work with the talented faculty, students and other professionals at PHHP,” Virnig said.

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