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International Health

Assistant Professor Pamela Surkan, PhD, ScD

Dr. Surkan’s studies the role of maternal mental health and the effects of family life on early growth and childhood development. Originally basing this work on a study in northeastern Brazil, she is currently studying these issues using longitudinal data from the US. Her other research focuses on the interactions between social conditions and other factors that impact health, such as dietary behaviors and environmental exposures. 

Asst. Professor SurkanSurkan holds doctorate degrees from the Harvard School of Public Health in Society, Human Development and Health, and the Karolinska Institute in Clinical Cancer Epidemiology. Before joining the IH faculty in 2008, Surkan was a research fellow at Harvard School of Public Health where she bridged social epidemiology with other disciplines, as well as helped to oversee a psychosocial intervention with HIV-affected youth in rural Haiti. 

One of her current research projects examines the effect of iron and zinc supplementation on development in Nepalese children. While studies have shown links between deficiencies of these two nutrients and impaired behavioral and cognitive development, the data are inconclusive. The burden of iron and zinc deficiency among children in the Sarlahi district of Nepal is extremely high. Dr. Surkan, in collaboration with a team of Hopkins-based researchers working in Nepal, will estimate the effects of iron and zinc supplementation on (1) infant temperament, (2) quality of feeding interactions, and (3) language development. Moreover, results will lay the groundwork for future studies that can provide more in-depth information about infant social and cognitive development in Sarlahi. 

In 4th term, Dr. Surkan and Professor Gittelsohn will teach the course, entitled, “Qualitative Data Analysis,” which focuses on the management and analysis of qualitative data in public health research and introduces various interpretive analytic approaches and guides students in applying them to data.