WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Three sections have been created in the Department of Social Sciences and Health Policy, a part of the Division of Public Health Sciences at Wake Forest University School of Medicine.
Doug Easterling, Ph.D., associate professor of public health sciences and chairman of the department, said the three new sections are:
• The Section on Healthcare Systems and Policy, which brings together faculty who conduct research on the organization and delivery of health care services, on health care inequality, and on healthcare policy, financing, regulation, economics, and ethics.
• The Section on Social and Behavioral Sciences, which seeks to improve health and quality of life through research focusing on the effects of diseases and their treatments on individuals and families, as well as research exploring social and psychological factors that influence health behaviors such as physical activity and healthy eating.
• The Section on Society and Health, which goes beyond individual determinants of health to include social and economic forces such as racism and poverty, while also exploring the role that public policy and community organizations can play in improving health outcomes.
“In creating these new administrative units, the Department of Social Sciences and Health Policy is defining its priorities for future research and providing faculty with additional opportunities to develop interdisciplinary research projects,” said Easterling.
Each section is headed by a faculty member recruited from within the department: Roger T. Anderson, Ph.D., Section on Healthcare Systems and Policy; Michelle J. Naughton, M.P.H., Ph.D., Section on Social and Behavioral Sciences; and Mark Wolfson, Ph.D., Section on Society and Health.
Anderson graduated from Michigan State University in 1984 and received his Ph.D. from the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health in 1991. He then took a post-graduate fellowship at Wake Forest. Prior to joining the faculty in 1993, he served as a health programs specialist in cardiovascular diseases in the Behavioral Medicine Branch of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.
Anderson has expertise in the measurement and analysis of patient outcomes focusing particularly on health care services and treatment for chronic diseases. He has published more than 75 reports in textbooks and medical journals. In addition, he has edited several volumes covering health-related quality of life and outcomes research.
Naughton received a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Iowa in 1988 and an M.P.H. in epidemiology from the University of Minnesota in 1990, in conjunction with a three-year fellowship in cardiovascular health behavior. She is principal investigator of a Behavioral Center of Excellence in Breast Cancer funded by the Department of Defense, one of only four in the United States.
Her research focuses on the quality of life and functional status of breast cancer patients and survivors, along with quality of life issues in the areas of colorectal and lung cancer, and diabetes.
Wolfson graduated from Indiana University in 1977 and received his Ph.D. from Catholic University of America in 1988. He did two postdoctoral fellowships, one at Stanford University in 1988-89 on organizations and mental health, and one at the University of California at Berkeley in 1990 on the social epidemiology of alcohol use.
His research focuses on the forces shaping public policy on alcohol and tobacco use and on the implementation and impact of alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drug policy and prevention programs.
Currently, Wolfson directs three studies: the National Evaluation of Free to Grow: Head Start Partnerships to Promote Substance-free Communities (funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention), the Enforcing Underage Drinking Laws Randomized Community Trial (funded by the U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention), and the Study to Prevent Alcohol-related Consequences (funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism).
The Department of Social Sciences and Health Policy has 17 full-time faculty members. Another 19, including seven from the Reynolda Campus, hold joint or cross appointments in the department.
“The department has a large and diverse portfolio of funded projects, including $4 million in new grants and contracts awarded during the past year,” Easterling said. “The three new sections are intended to extend this success by promoting innovative research projects that respond to the priorities of federal, state, and private funding agencies, even as those priorities shift.”
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Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center is an academic health system comprised of North Carolina Baptist Hospital and Wake Forest University Health Sciences, which operates the university’s School of Medicine. U.S. News & World Report ranks Wake Forest University School of Medicine 18th in family medicine, 20th in geriatrics, 25th in primary care and 41st in research among the nation's medical schools. It ranks 32nd in research funding by the National Institutes of Health. Almost 150 members of the medical school faculty are listed in Best Doctors in America.