Ruth Bernheim headshot

Ruth Gaare Bernheim

Unit: School of Medicine
Department: PBHS Public Health Sciences Admin
Office location and address
Health System West Complex Room 3189
1335 Lee St
Charlottesville, Virginia 22903

Ruth Gaare Bernheim, J.D., M.P.H. is the William Hobson Professor and Chair of the Department of Public Health Sciences and the Director of the Institute for Practical Ethics and Public Life at the University of Virginia.  She is the director of the Research Methods Core for the Translational Health Research Institute of Virginia (THRIV) where she leads the program to provide high quality biostatistics and regulatory support for clinical and translational research at UVA.  She is the founding director of the Master of Public Health Program at the University of Virginia and teaches courses on public health law, ethics and policy. She served recently as chair of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Ethics Subcommittee; as a member of the CDC Board of Scientific Counselors, Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response (OPHPR), and the National Board of Public Health Examiners; and as president of the Virginia Public Health Association.  Ms. Bernheim currently serves on the 10-member Board of Councilors of the Council of Education for Public Health (CEPH), the official independent agency recognized by the US Department of Education to accredit schools and programs of public health.

Bernheim works on numerous community health projects at the local, state, and national level, and with public health leaders in practice across the country on policy, ethical and legal education, including developing educational modules for the CDC’s Public Health Law Program. In addition, she chaired a recent national Expert Panel on Population Health Across Professions for the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH). Her research experience includes being a co-investigator on a Virginia Department of Health-led project titled, Excellence in State Public Health Law, funded by the Aspen Institute and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; and a Co-Principal Investigator on a project titled “Public Health Research Ethics,” funded by the Office of Research Integrity (HHS), under a cooperative agreement with the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).

Bernheim teaches courses in the medical, law, and engineering schools on public health law and policy and ethics, including in the required fourth-year medical school course on health policy. She is director of the Certificate Program in Public Health Sciences for Graduate Medical Education and led university-wide efforts to develop the undergraduate Global Public Health Minor and Global Public Health Major programs.

Her publications include two books:  Bonnie RJ and Bernheim R Gaare. Public Health Law, Ethics, and Policy: Cases and Materials, Foundation Press, West Academic Publishing (2015) and Bernheim RG, Childress JF, Bonnie RJ and Melnick AL. Essentials of Public Health Ethics, Jones & Bartlett Learning LLC, Burlington MA (2015).

Bernheim’s education includes a law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law, a master’s of public health degree from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, certificates in mediation from Boston University and the Harvard School of Public Health, and coursework as a research scholar at the Kennedy Institute of Ethics.

MD-PBHS Thomas Jefferson Health Department's Mobilizing for Action using Planning and Partnerships
Source: Thomas Jefferson Health District
March 15, 2007 – December 31, 2017
MD-PHS CDC-OperationSmile Improving Knowledge and Understanding of Appropriate Treatment of Orofacila Clefts
Source: Operation Smile, Inc.
July 01, 2013 – June 30, 2014
Commonwealth Public Health Training Center YR3
Source: Eastern Virginia Medical School
September 01, 2012 – August 31, 2013
CDC-OperationSmile Improving Knowledge and Understanding of Appropriate Treatment of Orofacila Clefts
Source: Operation Smile, Inc.
July 01, 2012 – June 30, 2013
PHS 5960: Supervised Independent Research
Credits: 1–3
Supervised Independent Research
DS 6002: Ethics of Big Data I
Credits: 1–2
This course examines the ethical issues arising around big data and provides frameworks, context, concepts, and theories to help students think through and deal with the issues as they encounter them in their professional lives.
PHS 7050: Public Health Law, Ethics, & Policy
Credits: 2
Required fall course for Community & Public Health track. Explores the legitimacy, design, and implementation of a variety of policies aiming to promote public health and reduce the social burden of disease and injury. Highlights the challenge posed by public health's population-based perspective to traditional individual-centered, autonomy-driven approaches to bioethics and constitutional law. Other themes center on conflicts between public health and public morality and the relationship between public health and social justice. Illustrative topics include mandatory immunization, screening and reporting of infectious diseases, prevention of lead poisoning, food safety, prevention of firearm injuries, airbags and seat belts, mandatory drug testing, syringe exchange programs, tobacco regulation, and restrictions on alcohol and tobacco advertising. May be open to undergraduates as PHS 5050 with instructor permission. Prerequisites:  Instructor permission.
PHS 7051: Policy Development, Analysis, & Advocacy
Credits: 3
Provides students with the opportunity to engage in the policy development & advocacy process. This includes defining & analyzing a policy issue, synthesizing info & data from numerous sources to generate policy options, examining the legal, ethical & other implications of potential policy options, understanding the preferences & perspectives of key stakeholders, & clearly communicating & advocating for policy options with different audiences.
PHS 7180: The Practice of Public Health I
Credits: 1
This course addresses cross-cutting public health competencies in Communication, Professionalism, and Diversity and Culture, and includes sessions with public health officials in practice. The course also will focus on effective written and oral communication.
PHS 7182: Interprofessional Values Seminar
Credits: 1
These seminars are sponsored by the Institute for Practical Ethics and Public Life (IPE), and are unique in that they include students from different professional and graduate schools and programs and are led by at least two faculty members from different professional schools or programs. These seminars use literature, plays, films, etc., as vehicles for exploring ethical concerns that arise in personal, professional, and public life.
PHS 8901: Applied Practice Experience II
Credits: 1
The Applied Practice is a planned, supervised & evaluated work experience with an organization that contributes to the health of a community. Students apply skills learned in the program to a real-world setting & work toward achieving competencies. Placements are selected based on the interests & needs of the student. A min of 50 hours is required; placements may occur during an academic year, one semester or over summer.
PHS 8950: Supervised Clinical Research I
Credits: 1–3
Supervised Clinical Research
PHS 8960: Supervised Independent Research I
Credits: 1–6
Supervised Independent Research
PHS 8999: Non-Topical Research
Credits: 1–12
Non-Topical Research