First Name: 
Ruth Gaare
Official Positions Held: 
Director of the Division of Public Heath Policy and Practice and of the Master of Public Health Program in the School of Medicine, as well as associate director of the Institute for Practical Ethics and Public Life, at the University of Virginia.
Computing ID: 
Office Address: 


P.O. Box 800717

Health System West Complex Room 3189



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.


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.


Public Health Policy, Law, and Ethics

Selected Publications

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).


Basic Title: 
William Hobson Professor and Chair of the Department of Public Health Sciences and the Director of the Institute for Practical Ethics and Public Life
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