A passion for public health

By Sally Crocker

Public Health

The School of Public Health was in its infancy when Lilly Ramphal-Naley, MD, MPH, joined as adjunct faculty in 2000.

The school had been officially founded just one year before at UNT Health Science Center. Accreditation by the Council on Education for Public Health was still a year away.

But since those early days, Dr. Ramphal-Naley has been a constant ­– teaching and mentoring, participating in faculty affairs, serving on advisory boards, developing courses, adapting instruction for online learning and supervising student practice experiences in the field.

In 2014, she created an international SPH student scholarship fund, donating her adjunct stipend each semester as a pledge to the program.

She was inspired, she said, to help “young minds find solutions to global issues like health care access, safe/healthy food and water, isolation of changing or emerging infectious diseases and other major public health issues that need attention.”

“Hopefully, the big world projects and challenges that our students are taking on can be translated back into ways they can help their own native countries and our world in the future,” Dr. Ramphal-Naley said.

In recognition of her longtime commitment to serving others first, Dr. Ramphal-Naley was recently honored at a reception by SPH faculty and staff.

“Over the years that I worked with Lilly in the Environmental and Occupational Health program, I came to consider her as full-time faculty,” said David Sterling, PhD, Professor of Biostatistics and Epidemiology.  “Her teaching and service alone are not what have made her unique as an adjunct, or a reason for honoring her. It is the dedication and passion she has put into this very part-time work.”

Dennis Thombs, PhD, Dean of SPH, said that another important aspect of Dr. Ramphal-Naley’s contributions has been “the wealth of ‘real world’ public health experience she’s brought to her teaching.”

During her career, she has held medical director positions for health care organizations such as Baylor Garland and Cook Children’s Medical Center. Most recently her work as medical director for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas has focused on population medicine for large employer accounts like American Airlines, Phillips Gas and Boeing.

Dr. Ramphal-Naley is a Fellow of the American College of Environmental and Occupational Medicine. She trained as an internal medicine physician at Rutgers University, completed a residency in occupational medicine and obtained a master’s degree in public health from the University of Minnesota.

“As a physician, she well understands public health and population health and has been in key positions to promote public health in multiple areas, from health surveillance to health management and policy,” Dr. Thombs said. “Over the years, she has been both a supporter and a contributor to the success of the SPH and our students.”

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