On November 28, Dr. Diana Hernandez, assistant professor of sociomedical sciences and Dr. Samuel Kelton Roberts, Jr., associate professor of history and sociomedical sciences at Columbia Mailman School of Public Health, will take part in a panel discussion titled “Disease and Disparity: Realities of the Uneven Playing Field of Public Health.” Drs. Hernandez and Roberts will speak on the attitudes, stigmatization, and violence surrounding disease and treatment, past and present. The program is presented by The New York Academy of Medicine and the Museum of the City of New York, and supported by Wellcome Trust as part of Contagious Cities.
The discussion will center on the factors that play a key role in a person’s and a population’s health outcomes. Illness is not a result of biology alone; economic status, race and ethnicity, immigration status, and housing need examining to find solutions.
An authority on energy insecurity, Dr. Hernandez focuses her work on the social and environmental determinants of health by studying the impacts of policy on the health and socioeconomic well-being of vulnerable populations. Her community-oriented research examines the intersections between the built environment (housing and neighborhoods), poverty/equity and health, much of which is conducted in her native South Bronx neighborhood, where she also lives and invests in social impact real estate. Dr. Hernandez is currently a principal or co-investigator on several projects related to structural interventions in low-income housing (i.e. energy efficiency upgrades, cleaner burning fuel source conversions, smoke-free housing compliance, new finance and capital improvement models in public housing and post-Sandy resilience among public housing residents).
Dr. Roberts is director of Columbia’s Institute for Research in African American Studies. He writes, teaches, and lectures widely on African-American history, medical and public health history, urban history, issues of policing and criminal justice, and the history of social movements. His book, Infectious Fear: Politics, Disease, and the Health Effects of Segregation (UNC Press, 2009), demonstrates the historical and continuing links between legal and de facto segregation and poor health outcomes. Previously, Dr. Roberts served as the policy director of Columbia’s Justice Initiative, where he coordinated the efforts to bring attention to the issue of aging and the growing incarcerated elderly population, which led to the report, Aging in Prison Reducing Elder Incarceration and Promoting Public Safety. Dr. Roberts currently is researching a book project on the history of drug addiction policy and politics from the 1950s to the present.
Other speakers are Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, deputy commissioner for the Division of Disease Control, NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene; and Ms. Rupal Sanghvi, MPH, principal investigator, Public Health Institute, Oakland, CA.