Structural Racism and Health Disparities

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Event Details

Friday, Feb. 24, 2023, 11 am – 12 pm PT


Headshot of Marilyn Thomas

Marilyn Thomas, PhD, MPH is a social epidemiologist investigating the mechanisms by which structural racism contributes to Black–White and other racial inequities in chronic disease risk, premature aging, mental illness, and mortality. My research evaluates policy effects and emphasizes methods for causal inference in the absence of randomization.

In the US, substantial racial differences in health persist despite efforts to reduce overall morbidity and mortality, and to address social determinants of health. Structural racism—the ongoing interactions between macro-level systems and institutions that constrain the opportunities, resources, and power of minoritized racial groups—is considered a fundamental cause of racial disparities in health. Unfortunately, adequate measurement to capture the mechanisms of structural racism remains a considerable challenge in public health research. Dr. Thomas' work helps to address this gap by measuring and evaluating the policies and processes contributing to structural racism.

Dr. Thomas' research centers Black experiences (i.e., factors that distinctively characterize Black lives in the US). To date, her research focused on three domains of Black experiences: policing, negative racial sentiment or race-based discrimination, and education.