Dr. Rachel R. Hardeman is a reproductive health equity researcher whose program of research applies the tools of population health science and health services research to elucidate a critical and complex determinant of health inequity—racism. Dr. Hardeman leverages the frameworks of critical race theory and reproductive justice to inform her equity-centered work which aims to build the empirical evidence of racism’s impact on health particularly for Black birthing people and their babies. In 2020, she was named the first Blue Cross Endowed Professor of Health and Racial Equity.
Dr. Hardeman’s research includes a partnership with Roots Community Birth Center, in North Minneapolis, one of five Black-owned freestanding birth centers in the United States. Her work also examines the potential mental health impacts for Black birthing people when living in a community that has experienced the killing of an unarmed Black person by police. Dr. Hardeman is principal investigator of MORhELab, which explores and defines ways to measure structural racism for the purposes of empirical, quantitative investigation.
Published in journals such as the New England Journal of Medicine and the American Journal of Public Health, Dr. Hardeman’s research has elicited important conversations on the topics of culturally-centered care, police brutality and structural racism as a fundamental cause of health inequities. Her overarching goal is to contribute to a body of knowledge that links structural racism to health in a tangible way, identifies opportunities for intervention, and dismantles the systems, structures, and institutions that allow inequities to persist.
Dr. Hardeman is active locally and nationally with organizations that seek to achieve health equity. She was recently appointed to the Minnesota Maternal Mortality Review Committee and the CDC Maternal Mortality Review Information Application (MMRIA) Bias work group where she is working to develop a measure of structural racism to be included when reviewing maternal deaths. Dr. Hardeman also serves on the Board of Directors for Planned Parenthood of the North Central States.