Patricia Wren (fl9890)

University information

Title: Department Chair
Unit: Department of Public Health
Department: College of Liberal Arts & Science

Contact information

Department of Public Health
3222 Faculty Administration Building
656 W. Kirby St.
Detroit, 48202

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences


 Department of Public Health

Title: Professor of Public Health
Secondary Title: Chair, Department of Public Health

 3181 Faculty/Administration Building (FAB)

Curriculum Vitae: 472424 1662558359 file

Greetings all.  Like many of you, I am a first-generation college student.  I started at the local community college two miles from my parents’ home in suburban Chicago. I earned an associate’s degree in Social Sciences (1984) from Harper College. That 2-year college experience made it possible for me to transfer to (and afford!) DePaul University in downtown Chicago. At DePaul, I earned a bachelor’s degree in Political Science (1986) and a master’s degree in Public Service Management (1988). Why political science? Because, at the time, I thought Dick Farkas was the most interesting teacher I had ever met -- and if you took every course he taught, well, you'd end up with a degree in political science. Moral of the story -- find interesting teachers and take every class they teach!

But my life and career took a turn during the late 1980s. I felt driven to work on the growing HIV/AIDS crisis. I won the professional lottery when real public health superstars -- Marshall Becker, Barbara Israel, Marc Zimmerman, Nancy Janz, and Nick Freudenberg -- hired me to work on their research team evaluating HIV/AIDS prevention and service organizations funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). Working closely with these faculty mentors from the University of Michigan School of Public Health and Hunter College (NYC), we traveled to Chicago, IL; San Francisco, CA; Cleveland, OH; and Alabaster, AL among other places to assess and learn from community-based HIV/AIDS organizations.  I was hooked on public health and have never looked back. Propelled by this experience, I completed my education at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, earning a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree in Health Behavior/Health Education (1992) and a PhD in Education (1999).

Since then, my own research agenda has largely focused on the measurement of patient-centered outcomes. I work on clinical trials and intervention ersearch studies with physicians, physical therapists, pharmacists, and other health care providers.  My role is to make sure that decisions about disease progression or treatment success take into account patient preferences and important indicators like quality of life, patient satisfaction, mobility, and functional status. I have worked on more than 20 research studies with $33+ million in funding from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, National Science Foundation, National Institute for Child Health and Human Development, National Eye Institute, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These community-based research and clinical trials have addressed a range of health problems including HIV/AIDS, glaucoma and strabismus, breast and colorectal cancer, stroke, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, mental health and suicide, and pelvic floor disorders in women.

You could also say that teaching may be my first love. I try to honor what Professor Dick Farkas sparked in me by fully committing to my own classroom teaching. I have taught intensive seminars to a dozen MPH students, lecture courses to 200 first-year undergraduate students, and everything in between. You can generally find me teaching PH 2100 -- Introduction to Public Health.  I *love* teaching the intro course -- the material is dynamic, always changing, and intended to get us all wrestling with health disparities, social inequalities, and evidence-based decision-making using public health principles and data.

Finally, I am honored to serve as the chair of the undergraduate Department of Public Health. I intend to bring a wealth of experience in higher education leadership, strategic planning, and academic administration to this position. Previously, I served as Director of the Health Sciences and Applied Health Sciences Programs at Oakland University (Rochester, MI) and was founding director of the Master of Public Health (MPH) Program there. More recently, I was Chair of the Department of Health and Human Services at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. 

My position as Professor of Public Health at Wayne State University is my dream job.  I am a native Detroiter who has lived in the shadow of campus for more than a decade.  I get to use training in public health to lift my city, its residents, and the metro region. I am so excited to be a part of this effort with all of you.

Research interest(s)/area of expertise:

Patient-centered outcomes assessment

Survey design and administration

Creation of new measures and psychometrics

Education – Degrees, Licenses, Certifications: PhD, Education, University of Michigan, 1999 MPH, Health Behavior/Health Education, University of Michigan, 1992 MS, Public Service Management, DePaul University, 1988 BA, Political Science, DePaul University, 1986 AA, Social Science, William Rainey Harper College, 1984
Awards and grants:

Co-Investigator, “Diversity and Inclusion in College Film and Media Programs,” University of Michigan M-Cubed Funding Initiative, 2019-2020. PI: Jennifer Proctor, PhD, $15,000.

Co-Principal Investigator, “Grizzlies Response: Awareness and Suicide Prevention (GRASP) at Oakland University,” Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2012-2015. PI: Michael MacDonald, PhD, $611,546

 Co-Investigator, “Preparations for In-Home Testing of Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCI) Operating Assistive Technology,” National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, U.S. Department of Education, 2009-2012. PI: Jane Huggins, PhD, $605,995

Selected publications:

Wei JT, Dunn R, Nygaard I, Burgio K, Lukacz ES, Markland A, Wren PA, Brubaker L, Barber MD, Jelovsek E, Spino C, Meikle S, Janz N and for the Pelvic Floor Disorders Network (2017). Development and validation of a quantitative measure of adaptive behaviors in women with pelvic floor disorders. Female Pelvic Medicine & Reconstructive Surgery. 23(4):232-237. PMID: 28650896. doi: 10.1097/SPV.0000000000000431.

Doherty D, Maher SF, Ivanikiw C, Hales M, Lebiecki T, Wren PA (2017). Perceptions of cultural competency in Doctor of Physical Therapy students. Journal of Cultural Diversity. 24(2):31-38.

Hawley LD, MacDonald MG, Wallace EH, Smith J, Wummel B, Wren PA (2016). Baseline assessment of campus-wide general health status and mental health: Opportunity for tailored suicide prevention and mental health awareness programming. Journal of American College Health. 64(3):174-83. PMID: 26629894. doi: 10.1080/07448481.2015.1085059.

Huggins JE, Moinuddin AA, Chiodo AE, and Wren PA (2015). What would brain-computer interface users want: Opinions and priorities of potential users with spinal cord injury. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 96(3 Suppl 1):S38-45. PMID: 25721546.

Menees SB, Kim HM, Wren P, Zikmund-Fisher BJ, Elta GH, Foster S, Korsnes S, Graustein B, Schoenfeld P (2014). Patient compliance and suboptimal bowel preparation with split-dose regimen in average-risk screening colonoscopy. Gastrointestinal Endoscopy. 79(5):811-820.e3. PMID: 24631492.

Patricia Wren

Irvin D. Reid Honors College

Last semester taught: Winter 2023

 Public Health

Courses taught by Patricia Wren

Fall Term 2024 (future)

Winter Term 2024

Winter Term 2023

Fall Term 2022

Winter Term 2022

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