The web portal Study in Greece is campaigning for the promotion and international visibility of Greek Universities and the comparative educational advantages of our country. In particular, the campaign focuses on the foreign language study programs that Greek Universities offer to Greek and international students. The initiative is supported by the General Secretariat of Higher Education of the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs and the General Secretariat for Greeks Abroad and Public Diplomacy of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. In this context, a number of educational programs and actions are presented in detail on a regular basis, such as undergraduate and postgraduate programs, summer schools etc, to inform international students about the many foreign language options offered by Greek Universities.

Study in Greece interviewed Professor Demosthenes Panagiotakos, Director of the Master in Public Health and Nutrition (MPH and NUTR) offered at the Harokopio University of Athens (HUA) about the program, its features and what it has to offer to international students.

MPHandNUTR 2Demosthenes Panagiotakos, FRSPH, FACE, is Professor in Biostatisics, Research Methods and Epidemiology at the Harokopio University of Athens and the Director of the MSc in Public Health and Nutrition. His research focuses on the epidemiology of chronic diseases, especially cardiovascular and cancer. At the same time, he deals with the methodology of medical research, specifically the design of epidemiological studies and clinical trials, and the creation of complex indicators measuring behavior and emotions.

Mr Panagiotakοs, please present us in a few words the main objectives of the MSc in Public Health and Nutrition which is offered by the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics of the School of Health Sciences and Education at Harokopio University.

The vision of Public Health is to promote health and well-being in a sustainable way by establishing integrated public health services and reducing social inequalities. To achieve this vision, the public health approach involves working with other sectors (i.e., clinical, laboratory) to address the determinants of health. From beginning, nutritional sciences have encompassed the nature of exposure to the constituents of foods and drinks, as well as their effects on the well-being and health of individuals. The Department of Nutrition and Dietetics of the School of Health Sciences and Education at Harokopio University offers a professional Master of Public Health (MPH) degree in Public Health. Τhe Program’s main objectives are:

  • to train Public Health scientists to design and manage interventions aimed at securing the health of populations.
  • to train scientists holding executive positions in public and private organizations related to Public Health and Nutrition.
  • to educate scientists of various interdisciplinary backgrounds for future professional career advancements in the field of Public Health.
  • to develop research and to propagate the knowledge base in the field of Public Health.

MPHandNUTR 3Given that the program is taught in English, please tell us why an international student should choose this MSc.

The Program is taught exclusively in English, and welcomes students from Greece, Cyprus and the rest of the world to provide them with all the necessary skills needed to thrive in the domain of Public Health. The Program provides students with an innovative, modern course of study that aims to provide candidates with “T-shaped” competencies, hence providing extensive knowledge and an array of skills necessary for professional career development in domains related to public health nutrition. The aims and outcomes of this MPH degree adhere to the European Standards laid out by the Agency for Public Health Education Accreditation. The Program’s instructors include esteemed faculty members, researchers, and research staff of the host Department, as well as of other internationally renowned academic institutions, with exemplary academic and research experience in the fields of public health and nutrition. Through interdisciplinary learning, the Program empowers students to augment and further elaborate strong interdisciplinary foundations in public health so as to acquire specialist expertise in public health nutrition.

Since the program is expected to start accepting applications soon, what are your expectations?

Our expectations are to establish a strong, viable and high-quality graduate Program in Public Health that will link health scientists from south Europe, the Mediterranean region, and not only, in a common goal, to improve quality of health in our populations.

MPHandNUTR 4How do you think the coronavirus pandemic has affected our eating habits and by extension “taught us nutrition lessons”?

There is much scientific evidence supporting that COVID-19 pandemic has affected our dietary, and lifestyle habits in general, as well as the way we see Public Health science. However, scientific community, and the general population were not ready to understand and address this health situation. By graduate Programs, like this one, we plan to create a group of specialists targeted in the promotion of public health.  

Harokopio is a very active University in terms of extroversion and international initiatives and was also ranked first in the annual World University Rankings 2022. Tell us about these efforts and also about the strategic goals that have been set for the future.

Harokopio University of Athens is a public university dedicated to promoting research and learning in a well-focused set of intellectual areas. The University, situated in the centre of Athens, originates from an educational institution that was established in 1929 by the national benefactor Panagis Harokopos. Indeed, the Harokopio University of Athens won one more outstanding Award, in the annual Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2022 by subject: clinical and health. This subject highlights the Universities that are leading across medicine, and other health subjects, including diet and nutrition. The Department of Nutrition and Dietetics had a significant role in this achievement, as the only Department in the University focusing on health.

MPHandNUTR 5Tell us a few things about the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics –its history, its research work and its future plans.

The Department of Nutrition and Dietetics is characterized by high level innovative research activity of international recognition, and the excellent network of collaboration with more than 160 universities and research centers around the world. It should be pointed out that the international standards to assess the quality as well as the impact of the published research of the Department is also reported in all the publications of National Documentation Centre from 1993 until now. Research in the Department is supported by a variety of collaborations, research grants from National and European Foundations, including European Commission, and contracts. Research and development grants received by faculty members for the period of 2000-2010 were more than 7 million euro, while for 2011-2020 were almost 20 million euro. The diversity of funding and the human studies are highly relevant to the mission of the Department. The Department of Nutrition and Dietetics has always high standards and goals to support the community with the state-to-the art knowledge in the field of Nutrition in relation to human health. International collaborations, not only in research but in education, as well, are always supported by the Departments’ staff.

Read also via Greek News Agenda: Study in Greece Masters of the Week: Professors Christina Karatzaferi and Giorgos K. Sakkas on the MSc in Lifestyle Medicine at UTh