Health Disparities Research Scholars

The Health Disparities Research Scholars (HDRS) program at UW–Madison, led by Deborah Ehrenthal (obstetrics and gynecology; CDE affiliate) and training grant coordinator Pamela Asquith, offers postdoctoral fellowships through a grant funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD).

Housed in the division of reproductive and population health, a newly created unit within the obstetrics and gynecology department, the program funds five scholars who are engaged in interdisciplinary research that addresses disparities in status and health outcomes among minority populations, with particular focus on maternal and child health. HDRS also aims to attract and support early professionals from communities underrepresented in academic research careers. Since receiving its first grant from NICHD in 2007, the program has graduated 20 fellows—with 42 percent of scholars identifying as underrepresented minorities.

Program fellows, along with their collaborators, have authored roughly 120 peer-reviewed articles that integrate public health research with the biomedical, sociocultural, and behavioral sciences. Covering topics that investigate the causes of and barriers to reducing health disparities, researchers have produced analyses on the costs, accessibility, and satisfaction associated with health services.

Over the past decade, HDRS has developed a close relationship with other departments and units, including CDE. Currently, three center affiliates—Jenna Nobles (sociology), Jim Raymo (sociology), and Stephanie Robert (social work)—serve on the program’s executive committee. HDRS also supports three postdocs affiliated with CDE:  Chenoa Allen, Linnea Evans, and C. Emily Hendrick. Allen, who received her PhD in health behavior and health education from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, is working on a study that examines whether extending public insurance coverage to pregnant undocumented immigrants improves birth outcomes for foreign-born mothers. Evans completed her PhD in health behavior and health education from the University of Michigan. Her research examines how everyday differences in the structured lived experiences of young adults can help address health disparities, with particular focus on race and gender. Hendrick received her PhD in health behavior and health education from the University of Texas at Austin. In her research, Hendrick seeks to understand and reduce maternal, child, and adolescent health disparities by investigating the determinant of women’s health behaviors and health across the reproductive years.

The interdepartmental collaboration between HDRS and CDE, in the form of faculty mentorships, professional development opportunities through the Demography Seminar, and computing assistance from the Social Science Computing Cooperative, has helped train the next generation of scholars working at the intersection of demography and population health.

HDRS is now accepting applications for the 2018–19 academic year. Graduating PhDs from across the social sciences, health sciences, and behavioral sciences with interests in maternal, child, and adolescent health disparities are encouraged to apply. The application deadline is Friday, February 2, 2018.