May 27, 2022
TO:All UMMC Faculty and Staff
FROM:Dr. Scott Rodgers, Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs
SUBJECT: Appointment of Dean, John D. Bower School of Population Health
I am pleased to announce that Dr. Thomas Dobbs, state health officer for the Mississippi State Department of Health, will serve as the next dean of the John D. Bower School of Population Health. His appointment is effective August 1, 2022.
Dr. Dobbs will be the third person to lead SOPH, which was established in 2016 under founding dean Dr. Bettina Beech, becoming only the third school of population health in the country. Dr. Natalie Gaughf, assistant vice chancellor for academic affairs, has served as interim dean since Dr. Beech’s departure in February 2020. A national search has been underway to find a qualified expert in population health who would be a perfect fit as dean. Dr. Dobbs brings with him to this role years of leadership experience and a keen understanding of the health status of Mississippi’s diverse population.
Dr. Dobbs earned his medical degree at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, where he completed residency and fellowship training in internal medicine and infectious diseases. He also earned a master’s of public health degree at UAB.
He started his medical career at South Central Regional Medical Center in Laurel, and joined MSDH in 2008 as a regional health officer and later became the state epidemiologist. In 2016, he returned to SCRMC as their vice president for quality and chief medical officer. He rejoined MSDH in 2018, briefly serving as deputy state health officer before becoming the agency’s top public health official.
Dr. Dobbs is uniquely qualified to lead SOPH and uphold its mission and vision. Through his work at MSDH, he showed a leadership ability of the highest level. Before and during the COVID-19 pandemic, he spent time in our communities, traveled throughout our state and made it clear that he understands the population-level difficulties facing the health of Mississippians. He is a trusted expert with proven integrity and during his career has always kept the best interests of Mississippians first when making decisions.
The John D. Bower School of Population Health is one of a handful of institutions in the United States dedicated to its discipline, which seeks to improve the health of individuals, populations and communities by enhancing health care systems and policies. The SOPH is home to three departments – population health science, data science, and preventive medicine – with more than 40 faculty and dozens of trainees in master’s, PhD, residency and certificate programs. It is the home of the Myrlie Evers-Williams Institute for the Elimination of Health Disparities and UMMC’s Jackson Heart Study Graduate Training and Education Center.
Dr. Dobbs is no stranger to UMMC and the School of Population Health. He has held an appointment in the school since 2018 and was the school’s 2019 nominee for the Regions TEACH Prize, the Medical Center’s highest honor for educators.
Dr. Dobbs’ scholarly and clinical interests include surveillance and treatment of diseases such as HIV and tuberculosis and he is the author or co-author of 25 journal articles and three book chapters.
I want to thank Dr. Gaughf for her service as the school’s interim dean. While also fulfilling her role as associate dean for student affairs, she led the school through the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and its growth in enrollment and educational offerings.
I am thrilled by this appointment and intend to do everything in my power to help Dr. Dobbs succeed in the role. The future of the School of Population Health is very bright indeed.