The Division of Social Epidemiology operates under the belief that social, as well as biological processes, shape the health of populations and communities. Social epidemiology is distinguished by its insistence on explicitly investigating social determinants of population distributions of health, disease, and wellbeing, rather than treating such determinants as mere background to biomedical phenomena.
Research in the Division of Social Epidemiology is supported by several large grants from the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), as well as the National Institute for Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD). The SWIFT, DESERVE, and WICER studies aim to examine the mechanisms linking social determinants to biological mechanisms of stroke and cardiovascular disease. In addition, the studies aim to identify and test intervention strategies to reduce the burden of these determinants. The themes under investigation include: nativity; cognition; and mechanisms linking race and ethnicity to disparities.
The Division is home to NIMICT, a national initiative studying the challenges and barriers to recruitment and retention of minority and vulnerable populations into neurological studies. Additionally, the Division extends its work to rural and international populations in the Alaska Native Stroke Registry and the Grenada Heart study. Other global research includes a cross-country comparison of cardiovascular disease within different economic climates.
The Division's researchers use network analysis with a focus on the impact of social support structures on disease outcomes. Members of the division are also exploring partner networks and HIV status in Africa.
The mission of The Division is to contribute to the reduction of disease in human populations through research, faculty support, education, and service. Specifically, the Division aims to:
- Enhance scholarship and conduct research under the broad umbrella of social epidemiology in order to understand the nature of mechanisms linking social determinants to biological processes. Key areas of focus include:
- Biological expressions of social inequality
- Eco-social theory of disease distribution
- Network analysis
- Life course perspective
- Multi-level analysis
- Poverty, deprivation (material and social), and social exclusion
- Psychosocial determinants
- Implement strategies which reduce the burden of these determinants; and disseminate findings to a wide audience in order to restore health to all.
- Support the development of faculty members as social epidemiologists through mentorship, skills workshops, and training grants.
- Enhance knowledge about social epidemiology to a broader audience of clinical faculty and students through educational venues such as Grand Rounds and graduate courses.
- Provide service to the University and the community at large including service as advisors to health professionals and agencies at the state, national and international level.