This month’s Institutional Member profile features the Columbia Population Research Center (CPRC) at Columbia University in NYC, a member of IAPHS since February, 2017.
The CPRC was founded in 2006 to foster cross-disciplinary research collaborations that would contribute to improving the health and well-being of vulnerable populations. The Center brings together population scientists from three Columbia schools –the Columbia School of Social Work, the Mailman School of Public Health, and the Faculty of Arts and Sciences — and other units on campus. Affiliates include demographers, sociologists, economists, anthropologists, political scientists, lawyers, statisticians, historians, physicians, and social work and public health scholars. Affiliates’ research spans four primary areas, with a key cross-cutting theme being a focus on policy, both as a driver of health disparities and a way to mitigate them.
Children, Youth, and Families. Some of the Center’s signature contributions include work by Jeanne Brooks-Gunn and her colleagues on the influence of family and neighborhood characteristics and the effect of interventions on child outcomes; work by Irv Garfinkel, Neeraj Kaushal, Ron Mincy, Christopher Wimer, and Jane Waldfogel on the effects of welfare, child support, and work-family policies on child and family well-being; and collaboration in the Fragile Families and Child Well-Being study – a study that integrates child development, demographic, social, policy, and genetic sciences to understand the health and development of children born to unmarried mothers.
Reproductive Health and HIV. CPRC brings a strong emphasis on social scientific approaches to gender and sexuality as determinants of population-level health inequalities. For example, IAPHS member Mark Hatzenbuehler conducts work on the role of structural stigma in the production of health inequalities, focusing on the health of sexual minority youth. Jennifer Hirsch leads an interdisciplinary team in a University-funded study of the factors that influence sexual health and sexual violence among undergraduates. This study, the Sexual Health Initiative To Foster Transformation (SHIFT) project, was featured in a recent issue of New Yorker magazine.
Immigration and Migration. CPRC researchers study topics such as the impact of U.S. social stratification on immigrant adaptation and health trajectories over time (Lisa Bates), how policies and events affect the well-being of immigrant families (Neeraj Kaushal, Yao Lu), and how school environments affect the development of children in immigrant families. In February, the Center held a half-day conference that convened academics, policymakers and activists to engage in a discussion on the past, present and future of DACA and its impacts on the immigrant and local communities across the country.
Urbanism. New York City’s communities provide an outstanding laboratory for studying how the physical environment and social resources of urban neighborhoods create contexts and individual vulnerabilities that modify and mediate relationships between economic and health disparities. For example, IAPHS member Andrew Rundle studies the “spillover” effects of adjacent or nearby neighborhoods on health outcomes within a neighborhood. A recent addition to the faculty, Danny Giovenco, received the NIH Director’s Early Independence Award for his work examining whether neighborhood differences in the promotion of tobacco and vaping products influence health disparities. Columbia faculty members partner with local community groups and work with New York City officials in their research to advance policies and local strategies for improving health, through initiatives such as the New York City Longitudinal Study of Wellbeing supported by the Robin Hood Foundation. The Center also has a strong global focus on cities, which play an increasingly important role in creating inequalities in population health worldwide.
CPRC is currently co-directed by Jennifer S. Hirsch, Professor of Sociomedical Sciences at the Mailman School of Public Health and Jane Waldfogel, Compton Foundation Centennial Professor of Social Work for the Prevention of Children’s and Youth Problems at the School of Social Work. The Center is supported by a grant from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and by the Office of the Provost at Columbia University.
According to Jennifer Hirsch, CPRC joined IAPHS to further its goal of helping junior faculty members connect with other population health scientists. The Center plays this role within the University; joining IAPHS was a way of fostering these connections beyond the university’s walls.