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Sharrelle Barber, ScD, MPH

Sharrelle Barber

Assistant Professor
Epidemiology and Biostatistics
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BS, Biology, Bennett College; MPH, Health Behavior and Health Education, UNC-Chapel Hill; ScD, Social Epidemiology, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health


Dr. Sharrelle Barber is a social epidemiologist whose research focuses on the intersection of "place, race, and health." Dr. Barber leverages state-of-the-art epidemiologic cohort studies to examine how neighborhood-level structural determinants of health such as concentrated economic disinvestment and racial residential segregation impact cardiometabolic risk factors and cardiovascular disease onset among Blacks in the Southern United States and Brazil. Her work is framed through a structural racism lens, grounded in interdisciplinary theories (e.g. Ecosocial Theory and Critical Race Theory) and employs various advanced methodological techniques including multilevel modeling and longitudinal data analyses. Through empirical evidence, her work seeks to document how racism becomes "embodied" through the neighborhood context and how this fundamental structural determinant of racial health inequities can be leveraged for transformative change through anti-racist policy initiatives.

Dr. Barber’s empirical work and academic commentary has been published in leading academic journals including the Lancet Infectious Disease, the American Journal of Public Health, and Social Science and Medicine. Her work has been externally funded by the National Institutes of Health, the American Heart Association, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Currently, Dr. Barber serves on the Jackson Heart Study Scientific Council and is co-chair of the Social Determinants of Health Working Group for the study.

Dr. Barber received a Doctor of Science (ScD) degree in Social Epidemiology from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and a Master of Public Health (MPH) in Health Behavior and Health Education from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health. Dr. Barber is committed to using her scholarship to make the invisible, visible; mobilize data for action; and contribute to the transnational dialogue around racism and health inequities.

Research Interests

  • Racial/Ethnic Health Inequalities in Cardiovascular Disease
  • Social Determinants of Racial/Ethnic Health Inequalities in Cardiovascular Disease
  • Community-Engaged Research
  • Geography and Health
  • Multilevel Analysis
  • Spatial Analysis and GIS
  • Global Health
  • Urban Health


Glover L, Cain L, Spuill T, O’Brien E, Barber S, Loehr L, Sims M (2020). Goal-Striving Stress and Cardiovascular Disease in African Americans: The Jackson Heart Study. Journal of the American Heart Association.

Mayne S, Loizzo L, Bancks MP, Carnethon MR, Barber S, Gordon-Larsen P, Carson AP, Schreiner PJ, Bantle A, Whitaker K, Kershaw KI (2020). Racial Residential Segregation, Racial Discrimination, and Diabetes: The Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults Study. Health and Place.

Lopes MS, Caiaffa WT, Andrade AC, Malta D, Barber S, Friche AA (2019). Disparities in Food Consumption Between Economically Segregated Urban Neighborhoods in Brazil. Public Health Nutrition.

Do P, Moore K, Barber S, Diez Roux AV. (2019) Local neighborhood racial/ethnic segregation and BMI:  A longitudinal analysis of the Multi-ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis. International Journal of Obesity.

Barber S, Diez Roux AV, Cardoso L, Santos S, James, SA, Toste V, Barreto S, Schmidt M, Giatti L, Chor D (2018). At the Intersection of Place, Race, and Health in Brazil: Residential Segregation and Cardio-metabolic Risk Factors in the Brazilian Longitudinal Study of Adult Health (ELSA-Brasil). Social Science and Medicine Special Issue on Racism and Health Inequalities, 199:67-76.

Wang X, Auchincloss A, Barber S, Sims M, Griswold M, Mayne S, Diez-Roux AV (2017). Neighborhood Social Environment as a Risk Factor for Health Behaviors Among African Americans in the Jackson Heart Study. Health and Place, 45, 199-207, doi: 10.1016/j.healthplace.2017.04.002.

Barber S, Hickson DA, Wang X, Sims M, Nelson C, Diez-Roux AV (2016). Neighborhood Disadvantage, Poor Social Conditions, and Cardiovascular Disease Incidence Among African American Adults in the Jackson Heart Study. American Journal of Public Health, 106(12), 2219-2226. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2016.303471.

Barber S, Hickson DA, Kawachi I, Subramanian SV, Earls F (2016). Double Jeopardy: Examining the Joint Impact of Neighborhood Disadvantage and Low Social Cohesion on Cumulative Risk of Disease Among African American Women and Men in the Jackson Heart Study. Social Science and Medicine, 153, 107-115. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2016.02.001.

Barber S, Hickson DA, Kawachi I, Subramanian SV, Earls F (2015). Neighborhood Disadvantage and Cumulative Biological Risk Among a Socioeconomically Diverse Sample of African American Adults: An Examination in the Jackson Heart Study. Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities. doi: 10.1007/s40615-015-0157-0.

Green MA, Kim MM, Barber S, Odulana AA, Godley PA, Howard DL, Corbie-Smith G (2013). Connecting Communities to Health Research: Recruitment Strategies and the Development of the Project CONNECT Minority Research Registry. Contemporary Clinical Trials. doi:10.1016/j.cct.2013.01.001.