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Social Disparities and Health

A pressing policy problem in the United States and other countries is the extraordinary pattern of inequality in the health of children and adults. These health disparities are widespread and not easily explained. Faculty in IPR’s Cells to Society (C2S): The Center on Social Disparities and Health are forging new paths to create better understanding of, and improvement in, human health and social outcomes. They recognize that such an effort requires complex modeling of the interplay between biological processes and environmental influences. To this end, they coalesce around the Center’s mission to:

  • bring together the social, life, and biomedical sciences to understand the origins, consequences, and policy solutions for contemporary health inequalities in the United States; and 
  • examine how broad social, race/ethnic, and economic disparities "get under the skin" and affect human development and physical health.

A Message from Thomas McDade, Program Chair and C2S Director

Thomas McDade headshot
The Center on Social Disparities and Health continues to expand its scope of activities to understand how social, economic, and cultural contexts affect physical and mental health, as well as cognitive achievement, at the population level. Faculty research overlaps with other IPR program areas including Child, Adolescent, and Family Studies; Policy, Race, and Inequality; and Education Policy.

Working Papers

Recently published articles and working papers in this program area include:

Marika Cabral, Bokyung Kim, Maya Rossin-Slater, Molly Schnell, and Hannes Schwandt. 2020. Trauma at School: The Impacts of Shootings on Students’ Human Capital and Economic Outcomes (WP-20-58).

Katherine Amato, Gregory Miller, Christopher Kuzawa, et al.. 2020. The Human Microbiome and Health Inequities (WP-20-44).

Thomas McDade and Stephanie Koning. 2020. Early Origins of Socioeconomic Inequalities in Chronic Inflammation: Evaluating the Contributions of Low Birth Weight and Short Breastfeeding (WP-20-41).

All Papers

Faculty Experts

Faculty come from the fields of anthropology, sociology, psychology, biomedical sciences, pediatrics, and preventive medicine, in addition to other social science and medical fields.

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Network Canvas: A Tool for Capturing Complex Data

Michelle Birkett, Assistant Professor of Medical Social Sciences and Preventive Medicine and IPR Associate

Socioeconomic Disparities in Health: Costs of Upward Mobility?

Edith Chen, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Chair, Professor of Psychology, IPR Fellow, and Co-Director of the Foundations of Health Research Center

Policy Brief: The Impact of Violent Crime on Sleep and Stress

Researchers, including IPR psychobiologist Emma Adam, studied sleep and the stress hormone cortisol in adolescents exposed to violent crimes in their communities. They found that adolescents’ sleep and cortisol patterns were disrupted the night and day following nearby violence, and that more violent crimes led to more serious disruptions. Disruption of both sleep and cortisol have been linked to poorer academic performance.

Download the brief