Michigan Public Health Establishes Sherman A. James Diverse and Inclusive Epidemiology Award

Exterior facade of the University of Michigan School of Public Health in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

In collaboration with the Society for Epidemiologic Research (SER), the University of Michigan School of Public Health has established the Sherman A. James Diverse and Inclusive Epidemiology Award. The award, which is co-sponsored by the school’s Department of Epidemiology, will recognize members of SER who have demonstrated research, teaching or service engagement that expands the field to under-represented or disadvantaged populations or researchers in promotion of facilitating greater diversity and inclusiveness.

Sherman A. James, currently the Susan B. King Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Public Policy at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy, worked at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill from 1973 to 1989 and at the University of Michigan from 1989 to 2003. At Michigan Public Health, he was the John P. Kirscht Collegiate Professor of Public Health, a professor of epidemiology, 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.

James’ research focuses on the social determinants of racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic disparities in health and health care in the United States. 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.

“Not only has Dr. James’ work been transformative, but his example as a pioneering African American scholar has served as an inspiration to many,” said DuBois Bowman, dean of the University of Michigan School of Public Health. “It is a privilege to partner with the Society for Epidemiologic Research to establish this award in Dr. James’ honor.”

James, who has taught at several outstanding universities during his career, points to his 14 years at Michigan Public Health as some of the most rewarding and transformative in his career. “Like Michigan Public Health, SER was pivotal to my development as an epidemiologist and mentor of young public health scientists. To have my two favorite institutions come together to sponsor this award is a very great honor,” he said.

The inaugural recipient will receive the award at the Society for Epidemiologic Research Annual Meeting in Chicago in June 2022.