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Transforming Public Health

Philanthropic Support Launches Public Health to the 21st Century

Leveraging its existing research strengths and building on a rich history of public health and preventive medicine, on Sept. 19, 2019, the Regents of the University of California approved the establishment the Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science at UC San Diego.

Public health is the science of preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting health through organized community efforts that ensure every citizen can achieve health and longevity. The three core functions of public health are assessment of the health of the community, public health policy development and assurance that public health services are equitably provided in a community.

First, the Wertheim Family Foundation pledged $25 million to UC San Diego in October 2018 as a lead gift to usher in a new era of public health research, education and advances. Initiatives will promote healthier populations on a local, national and global scale because of the university’s increased focus on public health.

“The most important thing we can achieve is making our communities healthier across the lifespan, and thus more productive,” said scientist, clinician, entrepreneur and philanthropist Herbert Wertheim, O.D., for whom the school was named.

“Prevention is, and always will be, the best medicine.”

Dr Herbert Werthheim and his wife Nicole pose for the camera.

John and Sally Hood Family Foundation

In September 2021, the John and Sally Hood Family Foundation announced a $3-million gift to establish the Hood Family Endowed Dean’s Chair in Public Health at UC San Diego. The gift is intended to support excellence in research, education and practice of public health at the Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health.

“We have lived in the San Diego region for more than 20 years and have had a close-knit relationship to UC San Diego throughout that time. This last year has shown that public health affects everyone and is vitally important to so many different parts of society: the economy, community relationships and especially individual people. We couldn’t imagine a more important moment to support a critical cause such as public health than right now,” said John Hood.

Cheryl A.M. Anderson, Ph.D., M.P.H., founding dean of the Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health, has been named the inaugural chair holder. An endowed chair is one of the highest honors that an academic institution can confer upon a faculty member. It recognizes excellence in their research and clinical practice.

“UC San Diego has always been a strong steward of the health care needs and educational aspirations of the San Diego region—and rose to the challenge as a community leader during the COVID-19 crisis,” said Sally Hood. “We have full confidence in Dean Anderson’s leadership to grow and develop this vital educational pathway for UC San Diego. She has the skill, dedication and compassion to lead a new school of public health and cultivate future leaders in this field.”

Anderson’s appointment as the Hood Family Endowed Dean’s Chair reflects her dedication to innovation and excellence in public health as both a researcher and educator. Her efforts have been instrumental in shifting public health policy and practice towards a more comprehensive and equitable future.

“Sally and John are stalwart advocates for the innovative work being done at UC San Diego and for our entire San Diego community,” said UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. “Their generous support for our public health leadership could not be more timely. Thanks to this gift from the Hood Family Foundation, Dean Anderson will have significant resources to help transform public health as we know it.”

An internationally recognized epidemiologist, Anderson joined UC San Diego in 2012. Her research focuses primarily on connections between nutrition and chronic diseases as well as the use of clinical trials and interventions to prevent risk factors for diseases such as heart disease, chronic kidney disease, diet-related cancers and obesity.

“I am grateful to Sally and John for their generosity and investment in the health of this region and in this school,” said Anderson, who is also the director of the UC San Diego Center of Excellence in Health Promotion and Equity

“They are champions of public health. This was evident in how they helped our region with pandemic mitigation efforts that allowed us to reach important milestones in San Diego County. This gift will be transformative as we build a school community that cultivates leaders and builds an infrastructure where members can thrive. It also allows us to boldly meet the public health needs of the 21st century.”

“I am grateful to Sally and John for their generosity and investment in the health of this region and in this school.”

– Cheryl A.M. Anderson, founding dean of the Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science

The Hood Family Foundation has supported numerous causes at UC San Diego and beyond, including funding cancer research, advancing research and clinical applications for bacteriophage therapies, providing scholarship support for approximately 150 first-generation college students, and supporting nutrition education and outreach programs.

In addition to the new chair, the Hoods recently funded a UC San Diego Health mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinic that supports equitable access to a lifesaving resource by distributing vaccines in underserved communities. John and Sally Hood are actively involved at UC San Diego Health, where John is vice chair of the Moores Cancer Center Board of Visitors and Sally serves on the Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health leadership advisory board.

Private support has been critical to the successful launch of the Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health. Established through the generosity of philanthropists, the school has already seen a meteoric rise in stature and enrollment for its programs spanning every level of higher education. The school offers numerous degree tracks, including a Bachelor of Science in Public Health, and a Master of Public Health with several options for specialization and doctoral programs.

Philanthropic gifts, like the $3 million gift from John and Sally Hood, contribute to the nontraditional path toward revolutionary ideas, unexpected answers, lifesaving discoveries and planet-changing impact. To learn more about supporting the Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science, visit

—Yadira Galindo