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Public Health Research at Dornsife: Urban Health, Global Impact

Social inequalities in health remain a major challenge for societies around the globe. Drexel University's Dornsife School of Public Health is committed to understanding the drivers of health disparities, investigating the possible interventions to reduce those disparities, and working with partners to eliminate them. Our school views social justice as critical to population health.

All of Dornsife's public health research has a community component to it. Co-created research projects result in co-created solutions to public health problems that are ultimately more sustainable and have more community investment.

The growth of research at Drexel Dornsife is one of the School’s defining features, having more than quintupled since 2014.

Public Health Research Resources

Dornsife has a diverse research portfolio in areas of population health including urban health, health disparities, translation of evidence into practice and policy, and health and human rights. Learn more about our research centers, interests and activities.

Drexel Urban Health Collaborative analyzes neighborhood-level data

Centers and Programs

Dr. Jana A. Hirsch at APHA

Faculty Research Interests

Shiriki K. Kumanyika speaks at APHA 2019

Faculty Grants and Announcements

Dornsife Research Expertise

Learn more about how Dornsife, both locally and globally, is building partnerships and focusing on health in cities.

Research Partnerships

research partnerships

Dornsife research is elevated by our partnerships with other exceptional local and international organizations. Learn more about our alliances.

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Urban Health

Urban Health

By 2050, cities will be home to two-thirds of the world’s population. Learn about the work of Dornsife's Urban Health Collaborative.

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Featured Public Health Research Topics

Below are two featured areas of research that reinforce Dornsife's commitment to the three goals of generating the best scientific evidence, putting it into practice, and promoting equity and social justice.


hands with bag of groceries

Dornsife's Center for Hunger-Free Communities offers research and action with the goal of developing innovative, empirically-tested solutions to the challenges of hunger and economic insecurity.

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Emergency Preparedness

group of people talking to each other

Our Center for Public Health Readiness and Communication builds public health infrastructure and capacity for disaster response and recovery through research, education and service.

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Faculty Research Highlight

Dornsife is fortunate to have among our faculty many experienced public health practitioners, and many researchers focused on generating policy relevant evidence. Evidence and action are two sides of the same coin, reinforcing and informing each other continuously to improve population health and eliminate health disparities.

ComPass logo

Drexel Dornsife to Serve as National Coordinating Center for New NIH Community-led Health Equity Research Program

Dornsife received a $20 million award through the NIH's Community Partnerships to Advance Science for Society (ComPASS) program to study health equity solutions nationwide. The ComPASS Coordinating Center at Drexel will be led by Amy Carroll-Scott, PhD, associate professor and chair of Community Health and Prevention, and Jan M. Eberth, PhD, professor and chair of Health Management and Policy.

Latest Public Health Research News

Dornsife researchers show the value of public health by addressing current and emerging issues facing the world today. Read about our research and activities making news locally, nationally and globally.

Stark Racial Disparities in Vaccine Uptake and Flu-related Deaths in Big Cities

As seasonal flu rates rise, it is essential that flu prevention efforts reach people who are at the highest risk: young children and older adults aged 60+. Using data from the Big Cities Health Inventory, an open-source platform providing health metrics for the 35 large U.S. cities that comprise the Big Cities Health Coalition (BCHC), we found stark racial disparities in flu vaccine uptake among urban residents.

Introducing The Drexel Climate Change and Urban Health Research Center

A multi-million dollar grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences will be used to establish the Drexel Climate Change and Urban Health Research Center (CCUH), which will support research to help protect the growing urban populations of the world from the adverse health and equity effects of climate change.

Stalled COVID-19 Booster Rollout Reveals New Hurdles for Vaccine Equity in Cities

The vaccine shortage led to the Philadelphia Department of Health asking low-risk residents to delay getting boosted to prioritize people at higher risk of COVID-19 complications. But will that be enough to ensure that the residents with the highest need get vaccinated? Drs. Alina Schnake-Mahl and Usama Bilal offer insight.

headshots of 10 new faculty members

Meet New Faculty Joining Dornsife in the New Academic Year

At the start of this new academic year, Dornsife welcomed 10 new faculty members in various departments.

Dr. Mariana Lazo and Team Receive NIH Grant to Study Social Determinants and Racial/Ethnic Disparities of Fatty Liver Disease

UHC Associate Research Professor Dr. Mariana Lazo and her team have partnered with researchers from the Lundquist Institute for Biomedical Innovation at Harbor-UCLA to provide new evidence about pathways between social determinants as well as the physical and social environments of communities and fatty liver disease risk.

transmicable cable system inBogota, Colombia

Residents Of Bogotá Maintained High Levels Of Physical Activity After The Implementation Of The Transmicable

A recent study published in The Lancet Global Health highlighted that, despite the tendency of low-income populations to use private motorized transport increasingly, the implementation of the first cable car in Bogotá allowed a high level of activity to be maintained physics on its users.

View of nursing home

New Funding to Improve Quality of Nursing Home and Long-Term Care Facilities in Pennsylvania

New funding for Dornsife will enable the development of training programs in infection control and emergency preparedness for staff working at nursing homes and long-term care facilities throughout Pennsylvania.

Dr. Barber and Dr. Bilal hold their awards on the SER stage.

Dornsife Faculty Recognized for Significant Contributions to the Field of Epidemiology

At the 2023 Society for Epidemiologic Research annual meeting two faculty members were recognized for their significant contributions to the field of epidemiology.

UHC Researchers Awarded Grant to Evaluate the Role of Policy in Health Outcomes and Disparities Related to HIV, Viral Hepatitis, STDs and Tuberculosis

Alina Schnake-Mahl, SCD, MPH, Assistant Professor and Ana Diez Roux, MD, PHD, MPH, Director of the Drexel Urban Health Collaborative, along with researchers from The Center for Public Health Law Research at Temple University Beasley School of Law (CPHLR) and Stony Brook University, have been awarded a five-year, $3.89 million CDC grant to evaluate how policy can affect infectious disease outcomes and disparities.

West Philly Promise Neighborhood Team Publishes New Evaluation Study

A study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health describes our approach to evaluating the West Philly Promise Neighborhood, a US Department of Education-funded place-based initiative providing cradle-to-career supports for children living or going to school in West Philadelphia.

kid playing with blocks

New Funding to Research Links Between Neurodevelopmental Disorders and Risk of Neurodegenerative Disorders Later in Life

Dornsife researcher recieves NIH R01 grant to study possible links between neurodevelopmental disorders and the risk of developing neurodegenerative disorders later in life.

Family with a donkey at their home in the mountain village of Margib, Sughd Province, Tajikistan.

Q+A: Improving Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Practices in Tajikistan

Drexel faculty share insights on their new study about water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) practices in the central Asian country of Tajikistan.

scale and tape measure

Obesity Prevents Patients From Receiving a Kidney Transplant

New findings from Drexel researchers suggest that critical weight management conversations between patients and their care teams simply aren’t happening, and the communication breakdown doesn’t end there.

Alex Quistberg and Team Awarded Grant to Link Urban Health Outcomes to Climate Change and Contribute to AI Risk Models

Alex Quistberg, PhD, MPH, an Assistant Research Professor with the Drexel Urban Health Collaborative, has been awarded a grant to study the health effects of climate change in two Colombian cities, Bogotá and Barranquilla. This work will be funded by a grant from the Lacuna Fund, an organization that supports the creation of data sets from low- and middle-income countries to contribute to machine learning models that better represent traditionally underserved populations.

illustration of two nurses with two new babies

Proactive Policing May Contribute to the Racial Gap in Preterm Births

A recent study in the journal of the American Public Health Association looked at proactive policing and preterm birth rates in New Orleans.

UHC Adds Urban Health Perspective to Gas Stove Debate

UHC Faculty member Josiah Kephart, PhD, has been studying the health effects of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and other household air pollutants for years. In a series of recent interviews, he explained how emissions from indoor gas appliances can affect health and how to mitigate exposure by switching to electric or induction cooktops or by using a gas range hood.

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