UC Berkeley School of Public Health names Michael Lu as dean

Michael Lu/Courtesy

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The UC Berkeley School of Public Health, or SPH, announced Dr. Michael Lu — the current senior associate dean for academic, student and faculty affairs at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University — will be the school’s new dean.

Lu was hired after an open, national search for the deanship, according to a letter to the campus community from Chancellor Carol Christ and Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Paul Alivisatos.

“Throughout his distinguished career, Professor Lu has remained a staunch advocate for Berkeley and our School of Public Health, and he impressed the search committee and SPH community with his passion for public health, extensive experience as an administrator, and collaborative leadership style,” Christ and Alivisatos said in the letter. “We are certain that he will continue to elevate the School’s stature as a hugely influential, top-caliber institution celebrated for its education, research, and community engagement.”

Lu attended Stanford University for his undergraduate studies, obtained his master’s degree from UC Berkeley and his medical degree from UCSF and completed his residency in UC Irvine, according to Lu.

Lu was the director of the federal Maternal and Child Health Bureau, or MCHB, in former president Barack Obama’s administration. During this time, Lu said he helped launch several national initiatives to address maternal, infant and child mortality in America.

“I truly believe that in the 21st century, no women should die from pregnancy or childbirth,” Lu said. “We’re one of the richest nations on earth, and yet we rank near the bottom among developed nations for maternal mortality.”

Prior to becoming the director of the MCBH, Lu worked as a professor of OB-GYN and public health at UCLA for almost 15 years, during which time he helped bring in more than $50 million in research and training grants and published more than 100 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, according to SPH spokesperson Linda Anderberg.

In the next five years, Lu hopes to make UC Berkeley the “innovation hub” of public health. Lu said the world of public health will change dramatically over the next 10 to 20 years and that there is an unprecedented opportunity to improve public health through technological advances in the face of threats such as climate change, chronic diseases, infectious outbreaks and social inequality.

“To become an innovation hub, we can’t work in silence, and one of the things that is big is that we build more collaboration,” said Lu.

Lu plans on being an “activist dean” and said he wants UC Berkeley to be known for making the “most groundbreaking discoveries,” generating the “biggest thinkers” and leading the world in “advancing health equity and social justice.”

“(Lu’s) impact on public health has already been huge as both an academic thought leader and as a government agency leader,” said Will Dow, the interim dean of the School of Public Health. “Our school’s mission is to improve population health, especially for the most vulnerable, and he has the perfect background to lead the school to the next level of impact in the coming years as a premier school of public health.”

Contact Aishwarya Kaimal at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @Aishwarya_R_K‏.