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IBS Associations

Population Program

Prevention Science Program

CU Population Center

Research Interests

tobacco use, disparities in health behaviors, cohort changes in social values, and evaluation research

Brief Biography

Dr. Pampel is a research professor of sociology at the University of Colorado and a Senior Research Associate at the Institute of Behavioral Science. He has served as the director of the University of Colorado Population Center and as Associate Vice Chancellor for Research at the University of Colorado Boulder. His expertise includes demography, health, inequality, research methods, and statistical analysis. He is the author of 19 books and over 80 peer-reviewed research articles in professional journals. His research on cross-national patterns of population aging, cohort change, and smoking has been supported by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. In the area of evaluation research, he has served as the methodologist in randomized controlled trials and quasi-experimental designs that have evaluated programs to improve the literacy of minority preschoolers, provide short-term counseling for government workers, reduce the recidivism of offenders on probation, and reduce violence in disadvantaged neighborhoods.

His new book, The Struggle for Public Health: Seven People Who Saved the Lives of Millions and Transformed the Way We Live (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2024), targets a popular as well as a scholarly audience. Here is a summary:

The fascinating stories of public health innovators who overcame immense obstacles to improve the health of millions.

In the nineteenth century, the scourge of deadly infectious diseases permanently receded for the first time in human history while longevity steadily improved. This progress was due in large part to advances in the public health field, including improved sanitation and cleaner water. Progress in health and longevity continued through the twentieth century, again thanks in part to public health advances in safer food, access to nursing care, an understanding of health disparities, reduced tobacco use, and a global network for vaccine distribution.

In The Struggle for Public Health, Fred C. Pampel shares the stories of public health innovators who, over a period of 150 years, helped save lives and change the way we live. These engaging stories feature scientific discoveries, strong personalities, and new forms of social behavior. But these changes did not come without struggle: public health advances met vigorous resistance from vested interests in the status quo, attachment to deeply embedded but false beliefs, and the sheer difficulty of creating large-scale changes in public behavior.

This well-researched and historically grounded volume chronicles the fascinating lives of seven advocates for public health progress, including a London bureaucrat who devoted his life to cleaning up filthy streets and neighborhoods, an activist nurse who provided first-rate care and health guidance to newly arrived immigrants, and the organizational genius who overcame limited funding, bureaucratic inertia, and political infighting to deliver vaccines across the world. It features public health innovations developed by Edwin Chadwick, John Snow, Harvey Wiley, Lillian Wald, W.E.B. Du Bois, Richard Doll, and D. A. Henderson. The inspiring stories in The Struggle for Public Health offer insights on past advances and the potential for future solutions that could save lives and improve the quality of life for millions of people.