The University of Pennsylvania's Center for Public Health Initiatives (CPHI) is a university-wide center which was founded in 2007 by the Provost’s Office. We promote interdisciplinary research, education and practice in public health.

The CPHI acts as the organizational home and academic base for Penn’s multi-disciplinary, inter-school Master in Public Health (MPH) degree program, which is one of the first multi-school accredited MPH Programs in the U.S. Learn more about the MPH degree.

Read more about CPHI and the Master of Public Health program in the "15 Years of Public Health" Anniversary Report.

Our Mission

The University of Pennsylvania's Center for Public Health Initiatives' mission is to educate and train new and emerging public health leaders, foster multi-disciplinary collaborations, and promote excellence in public health research and community partnerships. To achieve this mission, we:

  • Enhance public health visibility and focus, and provide an institutional home for public health in the University
  • Support and foster growth of our world-class, multidisciplinary Master of Public Health (MPH) degree program
  • Provide high quality learning opportunities, seminars and institutes for students, faculty, alumni, and practitioners
  • Foster the application of evidence-based approaches and experiences in public health, emphasizing translation of science into sustainable health improvements in communities
  • Facilitate collaboration for public health related research, involving faculty in multiple existing centers, institutes, and departments across the university 

Our History 

The Penn Center for Public Health Initiatives (CPHI)

The CPHI was founded in 2007 by the University of Pennsylvania to act as an interdisciplinary public health center that brings together faculty, staff, and students from across Penn's campus. The CPHI mission is to improve health and quality of life by expanding and strengthening public research and practice, fostering cross-disciplinary collaboration, and promoting meaningful community/academic partnerships. The Founding Director of the CPHI was Dr. Marjorie Bowman. The current Executive Director of CPHI is Dr. Jennifer Pinto-Martin.




Jennifer Pinto-Martin, PhD, MPH, is the Executive Director for CPHI and oversees all education, research and action initiatives. She is also the Director of the recently-funded Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities Research and Epidemiology (CADDRE). The University of Pennsylvania Center is one of five such Centers funded by the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to work collaboratively to understand the causes of autism and the reasons for its recent increase in prevalence nationwide. The CADDRE is also engaged in research on early screening and identification of ASD, nursing care for families with children newly diagnosed with ASD, sleep disorders in children with ASD, and the psychological health of siblings of children with ASD.

Dr. Pinto-Martin served as the President of the Society for Pediatric Epidemiologic Research and is currently on the Editorial Board for the journal Pediatric and Perinatal Research. She served as a special consultant to the National Institutes of Health on their research initiative on autism during 2001.

Dr. Pinto-Martin teaches undergraduate "Statistics" with a focus on the real world application of statistical knowledge. In addition, she teaches "Introduction to the Principles and Methods of Epidemiology," a course that is very popular with researchers who want to learn about the techniques of epidemiologic research.


Hillary CM Nelson, PhD, MPH, is a public health practitioner and the Director of Education for the University of Pennsylvania's Center of Public Health Initiatives (CPHI) and the Director of the MPH program in the Perelman School of Medicine. Dr. Nelson came to public health as a second career. She earned her PhD in Biochemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, ran an NIH-funded research lab, and is also an Associate Professor of Biochemistry & Biophysics in the Perelman School of Medicine. In 2011, she earned her MPH from Penn, with fieldwork on the Affordable Care Act and capstone policy work on Antibiotic Use in Food-producing Animals. Dr. Nelson is very interested in the intersection between biomedical science and public health. She co-directs the Public Health Certificate Program (PHCP) for biomedical research PhD students with a strong interest in public health. She also co-teaches the Public Health Biology elective for the MPH program. Dr. Nelson is also the Chair of the Health Advisory Council for Lower Merion Township.


Carolyn Cannuscio, ScD, is the Director of Research for CPHI and an Assistant Professor of Family Medicine and Community Health. She is committed to improving the health of populations, especially disadvantaged urban populations, through her scholarship and public health practice. This work is strengthened by collaborations with vibrant interdisciplinary teams and dedicated community partners.

Dr. Cannuscio completed her training at Brown University and the Harvard School of Public Health with leaders in social and chronic disease epidemiology. She first came to Penn as a Robert Wood Johnson Health & Society Scholar and then became a member of the faculty, where she has worked to address the critical social problems driving health disparities, with a focus on population health dynamics in Philadelphia—the poorest of the United States’ 10 largest cities. 

She is committed to strengthening cross-sectoral partnerships with organizations that have been largely untapped as agents for promoting population health, such as public libraries (notably the Free Library of Philadelphia) and arts institutions (including the City of Philadelphia's Mural Arts Program).  Dr. Cannuscio is also involved in a range of projects to advance evidence-based practices for the prevention/management of important public health concerns (e.g., the opioid epidemic, food insecurity/(un)healthy food access, and food allergies). She is dedicated to using her skills, experience, partnerships, and position at Penn to answer the Institute of Medicine’s call to “eliminate health inequities and improve health for all.” 


Heather Klusaritz, PhD, MSW, is an instructor and health services researcher with the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health and lecturer at the School of Social Policy & Practice at the University of Pennsylvania. Heather is an alumna of the University of Pennsylvania's School of Social Policy & Practice (MSW 2002, PhD in 2012). Her research interests focus on the intersection between health care and social welfare policy, specifically access to health care for marginalized populations and the design of health systems to eliminate disparities in health access and outcomes. Current research endeavors include: 1) training models for health care professionals to work with vulnerable populations in the era of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, 2) the impact of Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH) status of primary care providers on patient clinical outcomes in transitions in care, and 3) patient perceptions of PCMH status of their primary care providers and the impact on the care they receive. Ms. Klusaritz has significant teaching experience with MSW, MPH, and medical students as well as Family Medicine residents in the areas of health disparities, social determinants of health inequities, health policy, and social welfare policy. In 2009 she was awarded the President's & Provost's Citation for Exceptional Commitment to Graduate & Professional Student Life, at the University of Pennsylvania. In addition to her research and teaching, Ms. Klusaritz works collaboratively with multiple community partners throughout West Philadelphia to improve the health of underserved communities. She has served as a faculty advisor for the United Community Clinics in West Philadelphia for the past decade, recently completed an assessment and planning study for a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) in the Parkside community, and is the co-founder of Service Link, a program where trained undergraduate and medical students connect patients to critical social welfare benefits, help navigate health system access, and medical-legal advocacy.



Moriah Hall, MPH, currently works with the University of Pennsylvania as the MPH Associate Director. In this role, Moriah meets with students as an academic and programmatic advisor, works with faculty to maintain the curriculum, oversees the admission process, assists with student registration, and maintains CEPH accreditation requirements. She completed her Bachelor of Science at the University of Delaware and a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree at Temple University.

Prior to joining the University of Pennsylvania, Moriah served as the Master of Public Health Coordinator, Harrisburg Campus, for the Department of Public Health at Temple University. Moriah was previously a Project Manager for the Philadelphia-based nonprofit organization, The Food Trust. Moriah serves as an Advisory Board member to Healthy NewsWorks, a grass-roots nonprofit organization that emphasizes health education and literacy, empowering students ages 8-14 to promote health awareness in their schools and communities. Her public health interests include health literacy, social determinants of health, reproductive health, and food access. 


Courtney Summers, MSW, is the Interim Associate Director, Center for Public Health Initiatives. She is also a senior policy analyst and research program manager for the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health where she manages several National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants and a Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) funded National Center for Integrated Behavioral Health (NCIBH). She also co-teaches Public Health Administration and Policy for the MPH program.

Prior to joining Penn, Courtney worked in health policy at the Maryland State Legislature and Association of American Medical Colleges where she focused on Medicare, Medicaid, and post-ACA reform. Courtney earned her MSW from the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) one of the nation's first interdisciplinary professional schools focused on public health, law, and human services. 


Mary Ann Case is the MPH Program Administrator. 






Elaine Weigelt, MPH is the Community Outreach Program Manager for the Center for Public Health Initiatives (CPHI) and the Penn MPH Program. She is also a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s Master of Public Health Program. While at Penn, Elaine worked as a graduate assistant for CPHI where she developed the Public Health Pipeline – a 6 week internship introducing high school students to public health, founded a chapter of Walk with a Future Doc, led health education initiatives, and the MPH Service Corp. Elaine was recognized for her work as a graduate assistant with the College of Physicians Student Public Health Recognition Award.

Prior to Penn, Elaine gained experience at both the federal and local level, working for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a Public Health Associate assigned to Columbus Public Health in Columbus, OH. There, she worked in the fields of chronic disease prevention and HIV/STI. She then worked as a Public Health Advisor at the CDC Seattle Quarantine Station.


Nick Van Meter is the Administrative Coordinator for the Center for Public Health Initiatives and the Penn MPH Program. Nick is responsible for organizing program applications, assisting with student registration requests, overseeing the logistics for CPHI events, compiling and pushing out information to students and partners, and many other administrative tasks. He earned his bachelor's degree in political science from Temple University. 





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