The Cleveland Department of Public Health (CDPH) and Case Western Reserve University, through its Master of Public Health Program (MPH) at the School of Medicine, have forged a partnership to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The new partnership will help ensure high-quality COVID-19 epidemiology in the City of Cleveland and develop public health strategies to decrease the harm caused by the pandemic—expanding on the volunteer professional service provided by the MPH program during the earliest stages of the pandemic since last March.

“The City of Cleveland values its partnership with Case Western Reserve University,” said Mayor Frank G. Jackson. “Epidemiology is vital to CDPH’s operations and service to Clevelanders.”

The Case Western Reserve team has a long history of collaboration with CDPH. The new partnership will increase the level of collaboration by bringing additional, experienced public health and epidemiology experts on board to support the CDPH COVID Response team.

The partnership is led by Daniel Tisch, director of the Master of Public Health Program, and Scott Frank, director of public health initiatives, both at the Case Western Reserve School of Medicine. The team includes Professor Peter Zimmerman, Assistant Professor Sarah Markt, Associate Professor Jacqueline Curtis, Professor Andrew Curtis and Associate Professor Mendel Singer, as well as staff and students.

Tisch will lead a team of Case Western Reserve epidemiologists to help the CDPH epidemiology team manage, analyze and display the incredible volume of data necessary to optimize the COVID response.

Frank will lead another part of the university team to help the public health system use the data to address outbreak response, vaccine distribution and community concerns.

“We trust and value the expertise of our partners at the Cleveland Department of Public Health as they confront the public-health crisis of our generation,” Tisch said. “This is an opportunity to support them in this critical work for the welfare and recovery of our community as we emerge from this pandemic together.”

Case Western Reserve’s MPH program established a COVID-19 working group of several faculty members early in the outbreak to advise on public-health concerns on campus and across Greater Cleveland. The team’s members have backgrounds in infectious disease, epidemiology medicine and public health nationally and internationally.

The partnership leverages 20 years of collaborations between CDPH and the MPH program, including focused COVID-19 volunteer activity and consulting since the first days of the pandemic in Cleveland. Tisch and some of his students have been supporting CDPH by tracking cases of COVID-19 from confirmed patients to people who may be carrying the virus without knowing it.

The project will also incorporate dedicated student learning and service opportunities for the MPH program and affiliated degree programs in the Department of Population and Quantitative Health Sciences at the School of Medicine.

“Overall, this partnership will bring vital resources to cope with this virus that has affected every life in Cleveland and around the world,” Frank said. “The overwhelming scale of the pandemic requires maximizing resources to assure the best possible response.”


For more information, contact Bill Lubinger at william.lubinger@case.edu.

This article was originally published Jan. 21, 2021.