The New York State Department of Health (DOH) has a long history of biomedical research, public health policy and program development, peer-reviewed scholarship, and teaching. Its evolution as an academic health department advanced significantly when the University at Albany and DOH formed the School of Public Health Sciences in 1985 to further develop these functions while formally training the next generation of public health workers. The School, renamed in 1990 as the School of Public Health (SPH), was initially located within the DOH with its staff as the founding faculty. The curriculum was heavily influenced by public health practice imperatives. The SPH has evolved to have an independent campus and full-time academic faculty, but the DOH remains closely linked. The relationship is governed by a memorandum of understanding that commits both partners to provide substantial and continuing resources to the SPH. The SPH brings value to the DOH's mission to improve the health of the state's citizens by providing an academic focus to problems faced in health department practice settings. The opportunity to teach and be involved in an academic environment increases the DOH's ability to recruit, retain, and improve the skill level of its professional and scientific staff and thereby improve its ability to assess health problems and to design and evaluate public health programs. The SPH also provides training and support to county health departments and nongovernment organizations, which further the DOH's mission, through continuing education programs and an online MPH degree program. International exchanges including those with China, Vietnam, and the Republic of Georgia have enriched the academic environment. Challenges include maintaining sufficient full-time faculty members, the need for the SPH to take on broader public health issues than those applicable to New York, and the shrinkage of the DOH's workforce and departure of many senior scientists who served as faculty.