University of California, Berkeley


Name of Program

Maternal and Child Health Program, University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health

Contact Information

Maternal and Child Health Program
University of California, Berkeley
50 University Hall Suite 207
Berkeley, CA 94720

Director: Cheri Pies, MSW, DrPH
Staff Contact: Kate Jerman, MPH

Twitter: @UCB_MCH

UCB MCH on Facebook

Mission Statement

The Mission of the Maternal Child Health (MCH) Program at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health is to develop the next generation of leaders equipped to solve the health challenges facing women, children, adolescents, and families of the 21st century.  Using life course and social determinants of health perspectives as overarching guides, our trainees acquire skills in applied epidemiology, quantitative analysis, and leadership for the changing public health and health care landscape. Graduates are prepared to advocate for improved health outcomes for women, children and adolescents locally, domestically, and globally.

The UCB MCH Program was one of the first Schools of Public Health to receive federal funding in 1947 for MCH training. Alumni of the UCB training program have become high-profile strategic decision makers and leaders and work to achieve these goals in the U.S. and abroad. The MCH Program’s multifaceted and interdisciplinary curriculum and dynamic learning environment are designed to inspire in students and mentors a deep commitment to serving underserved, vulnerable, and disadvantaged MCH populations. The location and resources of our School of Public Health – in California and the Bay Area and at the University of California in particular – are well situated to offer quality educational opportunities, pursue compelling research, and inspire MCH trainees and current practitioners to utilize their skills and expertise to achieve health equity for all.

Degrees and Certificates Offered

  • Master of Public Health with MCH concentration (2 year track)
  • Master of Public Health with MCH concentration (11 month program)
  • Master of Public Health/Master of Social Welfare Concurrent Degree (3 year)
  • Master of Public Health/Master of Social Welfare Dual Degree
  • Doctor of Public Health (interdisciplinary, schoolwide program)
  • Maternal and Child Health Specialty Area Certificate

Non-degree and Continuing Education Opportunities or Programs

Annual Symposium: The program sponsors an annual symposium dealing with issues of importance to MCH practitioners and investigators. Every other year, the symposium is a showcase of student and faculty research from MCH leadership training programs throughout the Bay Area and Northern California. The most recent symposium (April 2015) focused on the changing landscape for children and youth with special health care needs in California.

Leadership Seminars: MCH students and current professionals have access to a variety of leadership activities and programs presented by the MCH Program and the Center for Public Health Practice at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health.

Examples of Current Research

  • Best Babies Zones Initiative (Dr. Cheri Pies, PI) BBZ is a place-based multi-sector approach to improving child health outcomes through the transformation of community conditions in small geographic zones. BBZ is designed to improve birth outcomes, reduce infant mortality and address issues of overall community health in four “incubator” communities around the country – Cincinnati OH, New Orleans LA, Oakland CA and Milwaukee WI. Collaborative partners include AMCHP, CityMatCH, and the National Healthy Start Association. 
  • Early Adversity Shapes Adolescent Risk Behavior Trajectories in Mexican Americans (Dr. Julie Deardorff, PI) Goal: To longitudinally examine the effects of early adversity on substance use & risky sexual behaviors among Mexican American adolescents, as well as factors that may mediate or moderate these effects.
  • The Center for the Health Assessment of Mothers and Children of Salinas (CHAMACOS) (Dr. Brenda Eskenazi, Director) is a longitudinal birth cohort study of the children of immigrant farmworkers in the Salinas Valley of California, which investigates the exposure pathways and health effects of pesticide exposure in farmworkers and their children and develops interventions to prevent future exposure.  Eskenazi is the PI and Director of an NIH/EPA Center for Excellence in Children’s Environmental Health Research and Dr. Kim Harley serves as the Associate Director for Health Effects.
  • Wallace Maternal and Child Health Center (Dr. Sylvia Guendelman, Director): a new research center established in March 2015 that will engage in innovative, evidence-based research aimed at creating healthier generations of women, mothers, children, and families in the United States.

Examples of Partnerships and Collaborations

We partner with a wide range of State Title V and other MCH programs to provide internships; real-world, hands-on learning opportunities; trainee mentoring, continuing education opportunities, collaborative research, and technical assistance. Examples include:

  • The MCH Program works closely with California Department of Public Health Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health Division. Student internships are available with several MCAH programs and MCH faculty serve on committees such as the CA CoIIN.
  • Pies & Guendelman serve as advisors to the UCSF/Benioff/Gates Preterm Birth Initiative, a ten-year initiative to reduce childhood death due to prematurity.
  • The MCH Program maintains an advisory board of leading MCH professionals in the Bay Area. The Advisory Board is made up of representatives from Title V and MCH organizations, including organizations serving CSHCN, state and local MCH Directors and program staff, other HRSA MCHB funded projects, community representatives, and alumni. Active academic-practice partnerships exist with all Advisory Board members, resulting in valuable internship and mentoring opportunities for students, training opportunities for MCH professionals, and collaborative research projects. Drs. Harley and Eskenazi, Associate Director and Director of the CHAMACOS study respectively, provide expertise on reproductive and environmental epidemiology, the effects of environmental toxicants on human brain development and behavior, endocrine disruptors, and pubertal onset to multidisciplinary partners in the fields of MCH, environmental health, agriculture, and policy.
  • The MCH Program works closely with the Public Health Nutrition (PHN) MCH Training Program at the UCB School of Public Health to provide collaborative leadership development and other training activities. Many PHN faculty are co-affiliated with MCH and students are encouraged to take classes and engage with faculty research projects in both programs.