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Home > For the Media Home > Biosketches > By Topic > Minorities/Racial Groups

Biosketches - Minorities/Racial Groups

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Research on Vulnerable Populations turns a critical eye on the dynamics influencing coverage for the poor, immigrants, racial and ethnic minorities, children, and people with chronic mental illness.
Alegria, Margarita
Bound, John
Colen, Cynthia
Cullen, Julie
Escarce, Jose J.
Geronimus, Arline
Haas, Jennifer
Hamilton, Darrick

Honig, Marjorie
Kapur, Kanika
McGuire, Thomas G.
McLaughlin, Catherine
Raphael, Steve
Swartz, Katherine
Williams, David R.
Yelowitz, Aaron

Dr. Margarita Alegría is Director of the Center for Multicultural Mental Health Research (CMMHR) at Cambridge Health Alliance, and a full professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. She has devoted her professional career to researching disparities in mental health and substance abuse services. A natural collaborator, Dr. Alegría has worked with investigators and researchers across the United States and Puerto Rico to generate research focused on improving health services for Latinos and other minority populations.

As the Director of CMMHR, Dr. Alegría oversees an interdisciplinary group of researchers and scholars, including psychologists, social policy analysts, health economists, psychiatrists, data analysts, sociologists, and other professionals that assist in the research, analysis and administration of the Center projects. She currently serves as the Principal Investigator of three National Institute of Mental Health-funded research studies. The Latino Research Program Project (LRPP) focuses on research to improve the mental health care of Latino populations, while the National Latino and Asian American Study (NLAAS) aims to estimate mental health and substance abuse disorders as well as rates of mental health and health service use for a nationally representative sample of Asians and Latinos. Additionally, Dr. Alegría serves as co-Principal Investigator of the NCMHD-funded Excellence in Partnerships for Community Outreach, Research on Health Disparities and Training (EXPORT). This study proposes to generate and test interventions that can remedy service disparities in asthma and mental health for disadvantaged Latino and African Caribbean populations.

Dr. Alegría's published works focus on the areas of mental health services research, conceptual and methodological issues with minority populations, risk behaviors, and disparities in service delivery. She received her Ph.D. from Temple University and was awarded the 2003 Mental Health Section Award at the 131st conference of the American Public Health Association.

John Bound, Professor of Economics, received his Ph.D. from Harvard University and joined the faculty at Michigan in 1987. He is interested in labor economics, demography and econometrics. Professor Bound is also a Research Associate of the Population Studies Center and a Faculty Research Fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research. His current research interests include work on the economic and health status of minority populations in the U.S. and the effects of transfer programs on behavior and economic well being. He has also worked on issues regarding changes in the wage structure over time and on the validity of survey data. His teaching centers on econometrics and labor economics.

Cynthia Colen is a social epidemiologist whose research focuses on the production and intergenerational reproduction of racial and ethnic health disparities, especially as they relate to women's reproductive wellbeing and perinatal outcomes. She is currently a Robert Wood Johnson Health & Society Scholar at Columbia University as well as a research affiliate of the University of Michigan Population Studies Center. Dr. Colen received an M.P.H. (1998) and a Ph.D. (2005) in Health Behavior and Health Education from the University of Michigan. Much of her research focuses on the extent to which upwardly mobile African American and White women in the United States are able to translate their newfound socioeconomic status into beneficial health outcomes. Another area of interest involves exploring patterns of reliance and sources of resiliency within extended kinship networks among members of marginalized populations. As a Health and Society Scholar, Dr. Colen is currently investigate the linkages between restricted returns to educational investments, residential segregation, and excess rates of morbidity and mortality among poor and nonpoor African Americans.

José J. Escarce, M.D., Ph.D., is Professor of Medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and Senior Natural Scientist at RAND. Dr. Escarce graduated from Princeton University, earned a Master's degree in Physics from Harvard University and obtained his medical degree and doctorate in health economics from the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Escarce has served on the National Advisory Council for Health Care Policy, Research, and Evaluation of the Department of Health and Human Services and the National Advisory Committees of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Minority Medical Faculty Development Program. He is past Chair of the Health Economics Committee of the American Public Health Association, and has served on numerous Institute of Medicine and National Research Council committees and panels. He was Deputy Editor of the journal Medical Care and is currently Senior Associate Editor of Health Services Research. Dr. Escarce's research interests include provider and patient behavior under economic incentives, access to care, racial and ethnic disparities in health and health care, and immigrant health, and the impact of managed care on cost and quality.

Arline Geronimus is a Professor in the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education at the University of Michigan School of Public Health and a Research Professor at the Institute for Social Research. She is also affiliated with the Center for Research on Ethnicity, Culture and Health. Dr. Geronimus received her doctorate in Behavioral Sciences from the Harvard University and did post-doctoral training at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Geronimus' research interests include structural and cultural influences on population variation in family structure and age-at-first birth; the effects of poverty, institutionalized discrimination, and aspects of residential areas on health; the collective strategies marginalized communities employ to mitigate, resist, or undo the harmful effects of poverty and structural racism on their health; and the perturbations public policies sometimes cause in these autonomous protections. Dr. Geronimus has worked with the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, the Detroit Mayor's "Dying Before Our Time" Task Force, and the Aspen Institute's Roundtable on Comprehensive Community Initiatives to revitalize American cities.

Dr. Jennifer Haas is an Associate Professor of Medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School. She is a general internist with a master's degree in health policy from the Harvard School of Public Health. Her research interests include studying racial and ethnic differences in access to care and health outcomes, elucidating the complex relationship between the characteristics of an individual's social and physical environment, health care utilization, and health outcomes.

Darrick Hamilton is an Assistant Professor at the Robert J. Milano Graduate School of Management and Urban Policy, New School University. He earned a Ph.D. from the Department of Economics at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. At the University of North Carolina, he received the department's Most Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award, and upon graduation received the National Economic Association's 2001 Rhonda M. Williams Dissertation Award. Professor Hamilton was a Ford Foundation Fellow on Poverty, the Underclass and Public Policy at both the Poverty Research and Training Center, and the Program for Research on Black Americans at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor from 1999-2001. Hamilton was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Scholar in Health Policy Research at Yale University from 2001-2003. His research agenda involves examining the welfare of less "privileged" groups and ethnic/racial group competition for preferred economic and health outcomes. He has published numerous articles on ethnic and racial disparities in; wealth, homeownership, and labor market outcomes. His research agenda has been supported by grants from the National Science Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Marjorie Honig is Professor of Economics at Hunter College and the Graduate School of the City University of New York. Her research interests include worker and household decisions regarding employer-based health insurance and other non-wage compensation, the effects of Social Security and private pensions on labor supply, the evaluation of retirement wealth, and retirement expectations and realizations. She is a member of the National Academy of Social Insurance, the Board of Outside Scholars of the Michigan Retirement Research Center, and co-editor of the Social Insurance Research Network on Social Security, Pensions and Retirement Income.

Kanika Kapur is an economist with RAND in Santa Monica, California. She received her Ph.D. in 1997 from Northwestern University and her B.A. in 1992 from Dartmouth College. Her research interests span several areas of health and labor economics. She has authored several studies that examine the labor market implications of employer provided health insurance. She has also studied the role of individual health insurance market in reaching the uninsured. In other work, she has examined the determinants of health expenditures, including the importance of health plan structure and the role of socio-economic and racial characteristics.

Thomas G. McGuire, Ph.D., is Professor of Health Economics in the Department of Health Care Policy at Harvard Medical School. His research focuses on 1) the design and impact of health care payment systems, 2) the economics of health care disparities and 3) the economics of mental health policy. Dr. McGuire has contributed to the theory of physician, hospital, and health plan payment. His current research includes application of theoretical and empirical methods from labor economics to the area of health care disparities. He has analyzed the reasons behind "discrimination" by doctors, and conducted empirical research to identify the contribution of the various mechanisms behind health care disparities. For more than 25 years, Dr. McGuire has conducted academic and policy research on the economics of mental health.

Dr. McGuire was the 1981 recipient of the Elizur Wright Award from the American Association of Risk and Insurance for his book, Financing Psychotherapy, and he has cochaired four NIMH-sponsored conferences on the Economics of Mental Health. He received the 1998 Arrow Award (joint with Albert Ma) from the International Health Economics Association. In 1991 he received the Carl Taube Award from the American Public Health Association. Dr. McGuire is a member of the Institute of Medicine, and a co-editor of the Journal of Health Economics. Dr. McGuire received his A.B. degree from Princeton and his Ph.D. degree in economics from Yale University.

Dr. McLaughlin is a Professor in the Department of Health Management and Policy and the Director of the Economic Research Initiative on the Uninsured (ERIU) at the University of Michigan. ERIU, a five-year initiative funded by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, has been conducting and disseminating research aimed at increasing our understanding of the interaction between health and labor market dynamics and the uninsured. In addition, Dr. McLaughlin is the director of the University of Michigan component of the Agency for Health Care Policy Research's Center of Excellence on Managed Care Markets and Quality directed by Harold Luft at University of California, San Francisco. The projects being pursued at Michigan focus on the dynamic interaction between plan performance measures, market structure, and employer behavior.

Dr. McLaughlin is also currently the Vice-Chair of the Citizens' Health Care Working Group and a Senior Associate Editor of Health Services Research. From 1993 to 2003 she was the Director of The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Scholars in Health Policy Research Program at Michigan. Her current research interests are focused on the uninsured, managed care, market competition, and employer and employee benefit choice.

Dr. McLaughlin has studied various health economics topics. She has published numerous articles on the impact of HMOs on market competition and health care costs, the determinants of small area variation in hospital utilization and costs, and issues surrounding the working uninsured. Recent publications include: “The Long-Term and Short-Term Effects of a Copayment Increase on the Utilization and Expenditures of Prescription Drugs,” in Inquiry, “Donated Care Programs: A Stopgap Measure or a Long-Run Alternative to Health Insurance?” in Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved, “Quality and Employers' Choice of Health Plans,” in Journal of Health Economics, "Causes and Consequences of Lack of Health Insurance: Gaps in Our Knowledge," in Health Policy and the Uninsured , Urban Institute Press; "Who Walks Through the Door? The Effect of the Uninsured" in Health Affairs; "Medigap Premiums and Medicare HMO Enrollment" in Health Services Research; "The Who, What, and How of Managed Care," The Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law; "Health Care Consumers: Choices and Constraints" in Medical Care Research and Review, "Competition, Quality of Care, and The Role of Consumers," in The Milbank Quarterly, and "The Demand for Health Insurance Coverage by Low-Income Workers: Can Reduced Premiums Achieve Full Coverage?," in Health Services Research.

Professor McLaughlin received her Ph.D. in economics from the University of Wisconsin.

Steve Raphael is an associate professor at the Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley. He received his Ph.D. in economics from UC Berkeley in 1996. Raphael's primary fields of concentration are the economics of racial inequality, labor markets, and crime. Raphael has authored several research projects investigating the relationship between racial segregation in housing markets and the relative employment prospects of African-Americans. Raphael has also written theoretical and empirical papers on the economics of discrimination, the role of access to transportation in determining employment outcomes, the relationship between unemployment and crime, the role of peer influences on youth behavior, the effect of trade unions on wage structures, and homelessness.

Prof. Swartz's current research interests focus on the population without health insurance and efforts to increase access to health care coverage, as well as health care financing and organization. She is finishing a book on the uninsured and how government-sponsored reinsurance could increase access to private health insurance coverage. The book is tentatively titled Reinsuring Health; it should be published by Spring 2006.

Prof. Swartz has been a member of the faculty in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Harvard School of Public Health since 1992. From 1982 to 1992, she was with the Urban Institute in Washington, D.C. In November 1995, Prof. Swartz became the editor of Inquiry, a journal that focuses on health care organization and financing. She was the 1991 recipient of the David Kershaw Award from the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management for research done before the age of 40 that has had a significant impact on public policy. She has a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Wisconsin and a BS in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Dr. David R. Williams is the Harold W. Cruse Collegiate Professor of Sociology, Senior Research Scientist at the Institute for Social Research, Professor of Epidemiology, and Faculty Associate in the Program for Research on Black Americans and the Center for AfroAmerican and African Studies at the University of Michigan. Previously, he was an Associate Professor of Sociology, Yale University, and Associate Professor of Public Health, Yale School of Medicine. Dr. Williams' research has focused on social influences on health and he is centrally interested in the trends and determinants of socioeconomic and racial differences in mental and physical health. He is the author of more than 100 scholarly papers in scientific journals and edited collections and his research has appeared in leading journals in sociology, psychology, medicine, public health and epidemiology. He has served on the editorial board of 6 scientific journals and as a reviewer for more than 40 others. In 1995, he received an Investigator Award in Health Policy Research from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and in 2001, he was elected as a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.

Dr. Williams has served on the Department of Health and Human Services' National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics (and chair of its subcommittee on Minority and Other Special Populations), and the National Science Foundation's Board of Overseers for the General Social Survey. He has also held elected and appointed positions in professional organizations, such as the American Sociological Association and the American Public Health Association. Currently, he is on the board of directors of Academy Health and a member of the MacArthur Foundation's Research Network on Socioeconomic Status and Health. He was a member of the Institute of Medicine's Committee on Understanding and Eliminating Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care and also serves on its Panel on Race, Ethnicity and Health in Later Life.

Dr. Aaron Yelowitz is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Economics at University of Kentucky. He also is a joint faculty member in the Martin School of Public Policy and Administration at University of Kentucky. He is also a Research Associate at National Bureau of Economic Research, a Faculty Affiliate at the Joint Center for Poverty Research, and a Research Associate at Institute for Research on Poverty, and the economics department liaison for the UK Center for Poverty Research. He serves as an associate editor for the Journal of Public Economics.

Dr. Yelowitz received his Ph.D. from MIT in 1994, and has previously worked at UCLA as an assistant professor. He has received funding from the Association for Public Policy and Management, the Economic Research Initiative for the Uninsured, the National Academy of Science, Employment Policies Institute, Social Security Administration, the Joint Center for Poverty Research, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. His publications focus on the economic consequences of Medicaid, public housing, SSI, WIC, Food Stamps, and AFDC/TANF. Many of the papers focus on the linkages between different poverty alleviation programs, such as the disincentives to leave AFDC because of the loss of Medicaid health insurance. He has published articles in the Journal of Political Economy, Quarterly Journal of Economics, Journal of Health Economics, Journal of Public Economics, Journal of Human Resources, Economic Inquiry and Pediatric Neurology. He has refereed for more than 25 peer-reviewed publications, including American Economic Review, Journal of Political Economy, and Quarterly Journal of Economics. He has presented his research in more than 50 academic settings, including MIT, Harvard, Yale, University of Chicago, and National Bureau of Economic Research.

Dr. Yelowitz has taught graduate classes on public economics and health economics, and undergraduate classes on labor economics, public economics, and poverty and welfare programs. Many of his research papers appear on the graduate syllabi for labor economics, public finance, and health economics at major economics departments throughout the country.

Dr. Yelowitz's most recent work focuses on the impacts of living wage mandates and health insurance mandates. He has presented his living wage research at the American Economic Association meetings, to the City of Atlanta Living Wage Commission, and to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He has also testified as an expert witness in the Santa Fe Living Wage trial. His most recent living wage study is forthcoming in the peer-reviewed journal Economic Development Quarterly.