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Safiyyah M. Okoye, PhD

Contact Information

Safiyyah M. Okoye


Assistant Professor

Graduate Nursing

Safiyyah M. Okoye, PhD is an assistant professor in the Department of Graduate Nursing. She holds a joint appointment in the Department of Health Management and Policy, Dornsife School of Public Health. Okoye joined Drexel as part of the Drexel FIRST (Faculty Institutional Recruitment for Sustainable Transformation) program. Okoye completed her PhD in Nursing (2019) at Johns Hopkins University where she was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Future of Nursing Scholar. Okoye’s goal as a public health researcher and nurse practitioner is to increase equity in health and function for socially and economically disadvantaged older adults. Her research examines socioeconomic and built environmental influences on physical function and disability among older adults with the purpose of informing individual, household, community and policy interventions to increase health equity. As a primary care nurse practitioner Okoye cared for a panel of patients with high prevalence of chronic disease (e.g., diabetes) and related conditions (e.g., poor sleep, functional disability) and became aware of the social and structural barriers faced by health care providers, patients and their families in co-managing health conditions. With her research, teaching and practice she seeks to transform health care in the United States to better serve the needs of patients and their families and to decrease health inequity.

Professional Society

Member, Gerontological Society of America
Member, Sigma Theta Tau, Nu Beta Chapter
Member, Sigma Theta Tau, Xi Chapter

Selected Publications

Reider, L., Falvey, J.R., Okoye, S.M., Wolff, J.L., Levy, J. Cost of U.S. Emergency department and inpatient visits for fall injuries in older adults: 2016-2018. Injury, 2024; 55(2):111199.

Szanton, S.L. Alexander, K.A., Kim, B., Li, Q., Gee, G., Bandeen-Roche, K.J., Adkins Jackson, P.B., Hladek, M.D., Samuel, L.J., Haozous, E.A., Okoye, S. Crews, Deidra. C., Thorpe, R.J, Jr. “Life Space and Activity Space Measurement: Making ‘Room’ for Structural Racism.” Gerontologist, 2023.

Fabius, C.D., Okoye, S.M., Wu, M.M.J., Jopson, A.D., Chyr, L.C., Burgdorf, J.G., Ballreich, J., Scerpella, D. & Wolff, J.L. The Role of Place in Person- and Family-Oriented Long-Term Services and Supports. Milbank Quarterly, 2023; 101: 1076-1138.

Okoye, S.M., Fabius, C., Mulcahy, J., Reider, L., Wolff, J.L. Predictors of falls among older adults with and without dementia. Alzheimer’s Dementia, 2023; 10: 288-2897.

Fabius, C., Okoye, S.M., Mulcahy, J., Burgdorf, J., Wolff, J.L. Associations between use of paid help and care experiences among Medicare-Medicaid enrolled older adults with and without dementia. Journals of Gerontology Social Sciences. Journals of Gerontology: Series B, 2022.

Grant participation:

NIH/NIA (K01AG080072) – “Addressing Housing Disrepair to Improve Equity in Functional Disability and Caregiver Burden;” 1/1/2024 – 12/31/2028; K01 Mentored Research Scientist Development Award; Role: Principal Investigator.

NIH/NINR (U24NR021014) - “Advancing Health Equity Through Innovative Community Capacity Building, Data Science & Delivering Community-Centered Structural Interventions & Outcomes: Drexel's ComPASS Coordinating Center (C3);” 10/2023-9/2028; U24 Community Partnerships to Advance Science for Society (ComPASS): Coordination Center Award; Role: Co-I, 1.5% effort.

NIH/NINR – “Understanding Housing Disrepair to Improve Equity in Functional Disability and Caregiver Burden;” 9/2023-8/2025; Extramural Loan Repayment Program for Health Disparities Research Award; Role: Principal Investigator.

Research Interests

Gerontology, housing and health, neighborhoods and health, functional disability, accidental falls, sleep health

  • Postdoctoral Fellowship, Training Program in Health Services
    and Outcomes Research for Aging Populations, 8/2021 to 7/2022
    Johns Hopkins University, School of Nursing
    Baltimore, MD
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship, Epidemiology and Biostatistics
    of Aging Training Program, 9/2019 to 7/2021
    Johns Hopkins University, Bloomberg School of Public Health
    Baltimore, MD
  • PhD, Johns Hopkins University, School of Nursing, 2019
    Baltimore, MD
  • MSN, Family Health Nurse Practitioner, 2012
    University of Pennsylvania, School of Nursing
    Philadelphia, PA
  • BSN, Nursing, 2011
    University of Pennsylvania, School of Nursing
    Philadelphia, PA
  • BA, History, 2005
    Barnard College, Columbia University
    New York, NY