New UK public-health dean, a Ky. native, says she will focus on state’s health disparities through partnerships and research

Donna Arnett

Donna Arnett, associate dean at the University of Alabama-Birmingham School of Public Health and former president of the American Heart Association, has been named dean of the University of Kentucky College of Public Health.

Arnett, who has a Ph.D. in epidemiology and a masters’ degree in public health, has researched and published extensively. Her research focuses on the genetics of high blood pressure and the damage the disorder does to organs, according to a UKnow news release.

Arnett has been chair of the UAB School of Public Health epidemiology department since 2004. She was instrumental in gaining the university’s accreditation and helped expand its joint medical doctor and master’s of public health degree and developed an online master’s of public health degree.

UK President Eli Capilouto also came to UK from UAB, where he was provost of the university and dean of the School of Public Health.

A Kentucky native, Arnett wants to address health disparities relevant to the region, including cancer and drug abuse. She also plans to expand the college’s portfolio of research funded by the National Institutes of Health, which has funded her research for 20 years, with three current grants. She told UKnow that she believes the future of population health depends on successful interdisciplinary partnerships.

“A big focus of mine will be bringing public health, medicine and other health related colleges closer together in terms of building population health,” Arnett said in the news release. “We’re building health for the commonwealth, and it fits very well with President Capilouto’s vision of the ‘University for Kentucky.’”

“Dr. Arnett is a transformative leader whose core values of excellence, professionalism and innovation complement the university’s mission,” UK Provost Tim Tracy said in the release. “With an impressive track record of gaining major national funding for research, she will encourage interdepartmental partnerships and champion studies investigating the most important health issues in the commonwealth and beyond.”

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