Jedi Public Health: Co-creating an Identity Safe Culture to Promote Health Equity

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Scholars@Duke

James

Sherman A. James

Susan B. King Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Public Policy

Sherman A. James is the Susan B. King Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Public Policy at the Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University. He also held secondary professorships, at Duke, in Sociology, Community and Family Medicine, and African and African American Studies. Prior to Duke, he taught in the epidemiology departments at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (1973-89) and at the University of Michigan (1989-03). At Michigan, he was the John P. Kirscht Collegiate Professor of Public Health, the Founding Director of the Center for Research on Ethnicity, Culture and Health (CRECH), Chair of the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, and a Senior Research Scientist in the Survey Research Center at the Institute for Social Research.

Dr. James was awarded the A.B. degree (Psychology and Philosophy) in 1964 from Talladega College (AL), and the PhD degree (Psychology) in 1973 from Washington University in St. Louis. His research focuses on the social determinants of US racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic disparities in health and health care. He is the originator of the John Henryism Hypothesis which posits that repeated high-effort coping with chronic social and economic adversity rooted in structural racism is an important factor in the early onset of hypertension and related cardiovascular diseases in African Americans.

Dr. James was elected to the National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine) of the National Academy of Sciences in 2000. In 2001, he received the Abraham Lilienfeld Award from the Epidemiology section of the American Public Health Association for career excellence in the teaching of epidemiology; a Health Policy Investigator Award from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in 2008; the John Cassel Distinguished Lecture and Award from the Society for Epidemiologic Research in 2013; the Wade Hampton Frost Award from the Epidemiology Section of the American Public Health Association for career contributions to the field of epidemiology in 2016; the Kenneth J. Rothman Career Accomplishment Award from the Society for Epidemiologic Research in 2019; and a residential fellowship at the Stanford University Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences in 2019-2019.

Dr. James is a Fellow of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, the American Epidemiological Society, the American College of Epidemiology, the American Heart Association, and the Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research. In 2007-08, he served as president of the Society for Epidemiologic Research, the largest professional society of epidemiologists in the world. 


Pearson

Jay A. Pearson

H. M. Foundation Associate Professor of Public Policy

Jay A. Pearson’s research, teaching and advocacy address how policy sponsored and structurally rooted social inequality influence the social determination of health disadvantage. A native of Hertford County North Carolina, Pearson’s early experiences in the rural agricultural south shaped and informed his professional interests. Pearson began his public health career as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer in Honduras where he worked as a child survival health specialist training and evaluating midwives and local health workers.

Upon returning to the U.S. he worked as a health educator with the East Coast Migrant Health Project, later designing and implementing health and safety training for Spanish-speaking factory workers, pesticide safety training with a multi-ethnic farm worker population, and lead poisoning prevention in an impoverished urban community. Pearson served as assistant project director of an NIH-funded research study in which he was responsible for primary data collection in an ethnically diverse Detroit community.

Academically, Pearson moved from a model of individual behavior change in undergraduate studies at North Carolina Central University to one of community assessment and intervention during his masters’ work at the University of North Carolina. While pursuing his doctoral degree at the University of Michigan, Pearson began to study the social determinants of population health. He is particularly interested in the health effects of conventional and non-conventional resources associated with racial assignment, ethnic identity, national origin, immigration, and cultural orientations.


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