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On a Mission to Redefine Health Disparities

Thomas LaVeistThe Lancet highlights the work of the Bloomberg School’s Thomas LaVeist, director of the Hopkins Center for Health Disparities Solutions.

Health Policy and Management Professor Thomas A. LaVeist says his work in public health comes down to one question: “Why is it that some people live sicker and die younger than others?”

LaVeist, PhD, whose seminal research in health disparities has challenged traditional assumptions about this pressing public health issue, is the featured profile in the January 26, 2013, issue of The Lancet.

He’s established a reputation for pushing boundaries with innovative thinking and meticulous research. LaVeist’s work over the past two decades has led to a broader understanding of health inequities, a problem that in his view is shaped mainly by social and behavioral factors—poverty, segregation, the environment and health behavior—and is not explained by biological differences among groups.

The William C. and Nancy F. Richardson Professor in Health Policy and the founder of the Hopkins Center for Health Disparities Solutions, LaVeist has garnered international attention with his work. He has published more than 100 articles in leading scientific journals and in the mainstream media and consults often with federal agencies and health care organizations.

Now, in his continuing efforts to raise awareness about health disparities, he finds himself taking some tentative steps beyond academia to make a documentary about his work.

For LaVeist, the take-home message of the experience so far is one that he likes to share with prospective students.

“I’ve learned that whatever your talents are, whatever your interests are, there are ways for them to be used in public health,” he says. “You can affect the health of a population through virtually everything, so think about what your skill set is and how you can bring that to bear in addressing the problems this society faces.”

Read an article about Thomas LaVeist’s work in Johns Hopkins Public Health.