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Cheryl Merzel

Building bridges and making connections between students and the surrounding community, between professional organizations and local community leaders--it's what Dr.Cheryl Merzel does best.

One of her strengths is serving as a "translator," who understands and employs the catalysts that motivate community members, program staff, agency management, researchers, evaluators, and funders. A knowledgeable public health researcher and evaluator committed to community capacity-building, her understanding of local organizations' needs has been indispensable in helping communities and academia collaborate on research projects.

One of her most notable community projects was the creation of the Downstate New York Healthy Start project, funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). As the program's Principal Investigator/Project Director, Dr. Merzel helped to bring needed services to families in New York City and Long Island. She also worked as an investigator on several CDC-funded intervention research studies addressing health disparities. With over 25 years of experience directing evaluations of a number of key public health programs, Dr. Merzel has helped numerous programs bridge the divide between where they are and where they want their organizations to go. Her research interests include the design and evaluation of community-based health promotion interventions and the development of community capacity to engage in public health efforts. Tobacco control is another area of her research, including prevention of smoking resumption among postpartum women.

Her extensive field experience has been the keystone to her success in academia. Dr. Merzel's education philosophy is grounded in both theory and evidence, but framed by the needs of communities and the reality of how public health works in the field. Her field work has given her the invaluable insight and vision to know which plans on paper will best translate to sustainable modules.

A leader in public health education, Dr. Merzel has committed over 15 years to developing the structure of several public health programs offered in New York City. Her career includes appointments at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, where she developed an MPH program in community-based research; at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health leading their MPH Health Promotion and Disease Prevention track; and at the City University of New York developing MPH and Doctor of Public Health programs.

Dr. Merzel's experience enables her to make every class she teaches relevant to the real world, helping her students understand how changes in a community's overall health can evolve. "One of the most gratifying aspects of teaching is when a student tells me that as a result of my course, he or she now sees that improving health involves more than individual-level education and behavior change and must encompass changing social contexts and environments."

Dr. Merzel received her MPH and DrPH in Sociomedical Sciences from Columbia University School of Public Health.

Dr. Merzel can be reached at

Cheryl Merzel, DrPH, MPH

Cheryl Merzel, DrPH, MPH Clinical Associate Professor of Global Public Health

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