SPH History Timeline

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Brief History of the UW School of Public Health


Pre-1850s: The Duwamish and other Native Americans live, hunt, fish, and gather food for centuries before the first non-Natives arrive on what is now the University of Washington campus.

1895: The UW moves from downtown Seattle to its current site.

1909: The Home Economics Department is founded.

1946: School of Medicine opens

1947: The Department of Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences begins as a small program training undergraduate students in sanitary science.

1949: The Health Sciences Building is dedicated on most of a former nine-hole golf course.

1951: The Environmental Health Laboratory is launched.

1963: A Biomathematics Group is established at the UW.

1969: The Department of Health Services is created within the School of Medicine.


SPH History


1970: The UW School of Public Health and Community Medicine is established on July 1.

1977: The Northwest Center for Occupational Health & Safety is launched.


1980: Executive MPH program founded (originally called Extended Degree MPH program).

1981: Marvin Oliver designs the Soul Catcher, new logo for SPH. It’s a Northwest Indian symbol for physical and spiritual well-being.

1982: The UW offers its first undergraduate course in toxicology.

1984: Center of Excellence in Maternal and Child Health founded.

1986: UW Health Promotion Research Center launches.

1986: The UW Superfund Research Program is established.


1990: Northwest Center for Public Health Practice opens under the direction of Mark Oberle.

1993: The Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Nutritional Sciences moves into SPH.

1996: The Pacific Northwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center is founded.

1998: Executive Master of Health Administration program launches.

1999: The Institute of Public Health Genetics is established.


2000: Community-Oriented Public Health Practice (COPHP) program founded.

2001: Health Informatics & Health Information Management program founded.

2006: The Summer Institutes in Statistical Genetics moves to SPH.

2007: The Center for Biomedical Statistics is established.

2007: The Department of Global Health is formed.

2008: School drops “Community Medicine” from its name.

2008: The International Clinical Research Center (ICRC) is established


2011: The Nutritional Sciences Program, as it is now known, moves into the School of Public Health Office of the Dean.

2012: Master of Health Informatics & Health Information Management program founded.

2012: Undergraduate Public Health Major (now PH-GH) transfers to SPH, eventually grows to 300 students per year.

2012: The PhD in Global Health Metrics and Implementation Science launches.

2012: The Global Health E-Learning Initiative (eDGH) is established.

2013: The UW Center for One Health Research opens.

2014: Center for Health and the Global Environment (CHanGE) is formed

2015: The Student Epidemic Action Leaders (SEAL) Team starts.

2016: The UW's 25-year Population Health Initiative kicked off, bringing together disciplines across campus to work on solutions to local and global population health issues.

2016: SPH adopts an anti-racism curriculum competency for students.

2018: A new undergraduate Major in Food Systems, Nutrition and Health begins.

2018: School hires its first director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.


2020: In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, SPH becomes one of the first schools in the country to move courses online. Students work with local public health agencies to track the disease while faculty and staff pivot to conduct rapid research.

2020: The Hans Rosling Center for Population Health, new home to much of SPH, opens. SPH celebrates 50 years of impact.

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For timeline clarifications or additions, contact us at sph50@uw.edu