Causes of Death: Social Inequities and Racial Disparities in Health

103 McNeil
March 25, 2019 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
Human Sciences, Associate Professor & Director
Auburn University
Speaker Biographies: 

My research focuses on the biopsychosocial epidemiology of health inequities. I study the interplay between social context, developmental period, behavior, and biology in relation to susceptibility to and progression of diseases. Using an ecosocial and developmental framework, I examine how the disproportionate burden of social hazards experienced by socially marginalized and discriminated against groups generates health inequities.

As part of my work I investigate the complexity of interactions between multiple-levels of influence on health, and psychobiological mechanisms involved in the embodiment of racism-related stressors. Such experiences across the life course contribute to physiologic wear and tear, and premature declines in health due to the cumulative burden that they exert on biological systems. I examine indicators of physiologic dysregulation, including measures of systemic inflammation and endocrine stress markers. Another important measure that I consider is leukocyte telomere length—an indicator of aging at the cellular level. These biologic consequences of racism that are common to several disease processes help to explain racial disparities across multiple morbidities.