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2019 Scholar: Amani M. Allen

Wednesday, July 17 – Friday, July 19
8:30 - 10:15 AM at Smith Wilkes Hall

UNNATURAL CAUSES: Social Inequalities as Fundamental Causes of Health Inequities

Overarching theme:

This short course will explore the role of social inequalities in determining long-standing disparities in health, with particular focus on disparities by race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status. We will interrogate the mechanisms by which social inequalities get under the skin and discuss strategies for ameliorating these disparities.  

Suggested reading for general background (not required):

Day 1: 

We will focus on the origins of racial and ethnic classification in the US, explore patterns of racial and ethnic health disparities over time, and discuss challenges associated with evidence underlying common explanations of racial/ethnic health disparities.

Day 2:

On Day 2, we will discuss self- vs. socially-assigned race and its foundational role in understanding social stress as an explanation for racial health disparities. We will also explore various mechanisms through which social stress is embodied and gets under the skin to impact both racial and socioeconomic health disparities, resulting in premature biological aging. 

Day 3:

Lastly, we will examine the various ways social inequalities makes us sick, and explore together the question of responsibility and accountability related to both racial and socioeconomic health disparities.


About the Facilitator

Allen Amani 1045am 071619Amani M. Allen is Associate Professor of Community Health Sciences and Epidemiology at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Public Health, where her research focuses on race and socioeconomic health disparities and the measurement and study of racism as a social determinant of health.

Her broad research interest is to integrate concepts, theories and methods from epidemiology and the social and biomedical sciences to examine racial inequalities in health as they exist across populations, across place, and over the life-course. Allen is Principal Investigator of the African American Women's Heart & Health Study, which examines the association between racism stress, cardiometabolic risk, and biological stress more generally, among African American women in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is also Co-Principal Investigator of the Bay Area Heart Health Study which examines similar associations among African American men with an emphasis on coping and internalized racism. Her research has included work on doctor-patient race-concordance; the intersection of race, socioeconomic status, and gender on risk for psychological distress, disability, adult mortality, and child health and development; racial segregation; income inequality; and racism stress and a range of mental and physical health outcomes. Dr. Allen has published numerous academic articles in top scientific journals including the American Journal of Public Health, American Journal of Preventative Medicine, Annals of Epidemiology, Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences and Psychoneuroendocrinology, where her recent paper examining racial discrimination, educational attainment and biological dysregulation among African American women was recently named Editor's Choice. Dr. Allen's work has been featured on NPR, CBS, The Guardian, and the San Francisco Chronicle, among others. She has received numerous awards for teaching excellence and as a junior faculty member was honored with the singular award for Distinguished Graduate Student Mentoring Award at the University of California Berkeley.

Allen received her Bachelor of Science (BS) in Biology from the University of Maryland, College Park, her Master of Public Health (MPH) from the George Washington University, and her Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) from the Johns Hopkins University. She was also a Robert Wood Johnson Health and Society Scholar at the University of California, San Francisco and Berkeley.