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School and Program Updates

School and Program Updates

Rutgers Appoints New Social and Behavioral Health Sciences Chair

The Rutgers School of Public Health is pleased to welcome Paul R. Duberstein, PhD, as the incoming chair of the department of social and behavioral health sciences.

Dr. Duberstein’s appointment will begin on November 1.

Currently, Dr. Duberstein is a professor of psychiatry, medicine, and family medicine at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry (URSMD), where he also serves as the director of research in the Division of Palliative Care for the URSMD’s Department of Medicine.

For more than 25 years Dr. Duberstein has been a public health and clinical-community psychologist and social scientist conducting internationally recognized and federally-funded collaborative research. His recent concentration has been in social, behavioral, and policy issues in health care delivery.

Dr. Duberstein conducts both observational and interventional research, including the examination of psychosocial predictors of clinically important outcomes such as mood disorders, suicidal behavior, Alzheimer’s Disease and longevity, as well as, the effects of psychotherapies and communication interventions to modify the way in which patients and their clinicians interact at the point of care about challenging topics like cancer treatment, depression, and suicide.

“Dr. Duberstein joins the Rutgers School of Public Health at a time when we continue to grow in prominence and stature building on our 35-year history,” says Rutgers School of Public Health Dean Perry N. Halkitis. “Dr. Duberstein is a very well respected scholar and advocate whose work lives at the crossroads of public health, clinical practice, advocacy, and education, and his leadership will be critical in furthering the interdisciplinary nature of the research, education, and practice we enact at our School. We could not ask for a better chair — one whose humanity is also central to the ethos of the new Rutgers School of Public Health.”

As a public health psychologist, Dr. Duberstein is focused on translational research, and over the last decade, has fixed his aim on mitigating health disparities related to race and socioeconomic disadvantage, including the improvement of health care access and services for older patients and their caregivers, with advanced life-limiting ailments.

Dr. Duberstein’s earliest work centered on suicide prevention, a topic he is still engaged with as the co-principal investigator on a project funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which examines the impact a personally tailored interactive multimedia program, delivered in primary care practices, has on a patient’s suicide risk.

“Over the last few decades, the explosion of knowledge in social and behavioral sciences has fundamentally changed our understanding of the determinants of health outcomes and has begun to influence health care delivery and policy. This knowledge must also influence the way we train our students and conduct research,” comments Dr. Duberstein. “I am excited to work closely with Dean Halkitis and my new colleagues to help the Rutgers School of Public Health emerge as a one of the nation’s top schools for public health professionals and scholars to train and conduct research unconstrained by artificial disciplinary boundaries. Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences (RBHS) is well-positioned to be at the forefront of this new movement in public health education and research, given our considerable strengths in many of our academic units, particularly the Institute for Health, Health Care Policy, and Aging Research and the Cancer Institute of New Jersey. I look forward to working with colleagues throughout RBHS to strengthen and build partnerships with community organizations and government agencies to find solutions to some of our most vexing public health problems.”

Dr. Duberstein has over 250 peer-reviewed publications and over 18,000 scientific article citations, including scholarly contributions to the primary pillars of interest for the Rutgers School of Public Health such as, LGBTQ health, mental health, social and structural determinants of health, and disparities among vulnerable or marginalized populations.

Perhaps his most lasting impact on psychology and social science will be the bevy of students, postdoctoral fellows, and junior faculty members Dr. Duberstein has helped guide into the field, and those he pledges to advise in the future.

The Rutgers School of Public Health welcomes Dr. Paul Duberstein