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Leaving a legacy in public health and medicine

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“I always wanted to make an impact on more than one person, on populations. With public health, that’s what you do,” says Dr. John McGowan Jr., professor of epidemiology. As he heads into retirement after 40-plus years dedicated to public health and medicine, he has done exactly that.

McGowan started his public health career as an Epidemic Intelligence Service officer at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 1969 before moving on to work as a hospital epidemiologist at Boston City Hospital. He was recruited to work at Grady Memorial Hospital as an infectious diseases physician and hospital epidemiologist—where he worked for 25 years—and started teaching classes to Emory MPH students in the early 1990s. He joined Rollins full time in 1998.

“John is the consummate physician, epidemiologist, and professor of public health and medicine,” says Dean James W. Curran. “His long career at Emory demonstrated excellence in teaching, research, and service. His devotion to trainees has been recognized at all levels, most notably by many teaching awards from students.”

In addition to his work with MPH and MSPH students, McGowan has been instrumental in growing the MD/MPH dual-degree program offered through the Emory School of Medicine and Rollins. Prior to McGowan, the program received about one new student every two years. Now, the MD/MPH program receives between nine and 25 students a year.

McGowan also assisted in the Master of Science in Clinical Research program, which he helped initiate in 1999. A joint effort between the school of medicine, Laney Graduate School, and Rollins, the program provides training to physicians, junior faculty, medical students, fellows, and residents to help them become successful clinical researchers.

For more about McGowan’s career, go to —Kelly Jordan

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