2021 Dean's Seminar Series - About Our Speakers

Sherman James

Sherman A. James, PhD                                         

Sherman A. James is the Susan B. King Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Public Policy at Duke University and adjunct professor of epidemiology at Emory and Tulane Universities.  Prior to Duke (2003-14), he was a professor of epidemiology at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (1973-89) and the University of Michigan (1989-03). At Michigan, he was the John P. Kirscht Collegiate Professor of Public Health and the Founding Director of the Center for Research on Ethnicity, Culture, and Health (CRECH).

Dr. James received the AB degree (Psychology and Philosophy) from Talladega College (AL) in 1964, and the PhD degree (Social Psychology) from Washington University in St. Louis, in 1973

A social epidemiologist, Dr. James is the originator of the John Henryism Hypothesis which posits that repeated, “high-effort” coping with difficult social and economic stressors generated, in large part, by structural racism accelerates risk for cardiometabolic diseases in Black Americans, especially the poor and working class.  His research has been featured in The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Guardian, Vice, ProPublica, The Atlantic, and on NPR.

Dr. James was elected to the National Academy of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, in 2000, and to the American Academy of Political and Social Science, in 2016. In 2001, he received  the Abraham Lilienfeld Award from the Epidemiology section of the American Public Health Association for career excellence in teaching epidemiology; a Health Policy Investigator Award from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in 2008; the John Cassel Distinguished Lecture and Award from the Society for Epidemiologic Research in 2013; the Wade Hampton Frost Award from the Epidemiology Section of the American Health Association for career contributions to the field of epidemiology in 2016; the Kenneth Rothman Career Accomplishment Award from the Society for Epidemiologic Research, in 2019; and a  fellowship at Stanford University’s  Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences in 2018-2019.

In 2007-08, Dr. James was president of the Society for Epidemiologic Research, the largest professional organization of epidemiologists in North America. He is the author, or co-author, of 240 scientific papers and book chapters.     

Thomas LaVeist, PhD

Thomas LaVeist is dean of the Tulane University, School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. He has written over 150 scientific articles, numerous mass media outlets, authored six books, and is executive producer of “The Skin You’re In,” documentary series about racial inequalities in health. An award winning research scientist, Dr. LaVeist has received the “Innovation Award” from National Institutes of Health, the “Knowledge Award” from the U.S.A. Department of Health and Human Services and was elected to the National Academy of Medicine.

Roshan Bastani

Dr. Bastani, a social/health psychologist, has been conducting health disparities intervention research for over three decades, with a focus on implementing rigorous yet pragmatic intervention trials to improve health outcomes and reduce disparities. She has led a large number of studies among low income, ethnic minority, and immigrant populations in both clinical and community settings. Her research is conceptually grounded and includes strong and equitable community partnerships. Dr. Bastani’s methodological expertise includes survey research; quantitative methods; research design; comparative effectiveness trials; program evaluation; implementation science; and utilization of EHR and other administrative databases for research purposes. She teaches a doctoral level course in implementation science. For over 15 years, she led an NIH post-doctoral program on transdisciplinary cancer training and disparities research. Dr. Bastani served an 11-year term as Associate Dean for Research in the School of Public Health and she has had continuous research funding from the NIH since 1988.

Dr. Bastani’s research spans the developmental continuum and includes studies on breast, cervix, colorectal and prostate cancer screening and diagnostic follow-up; hepatitis B screening; tobacco control; melanoma prevention; obesity control; liver disease; and HPV vaccine uptake. This work includes examination of the drivers of disparities, implementation of pragmatic intervention trials to mitigate observed disparities, methodological studies, as well as studies to advance theory in the field. A few examples of her current implementation research include two system-focused trials to increase HPV vaccine uptake among low income, ethnic minority adolescents in safety-net clinical settings (NCI R01; PCORI); a system intervention to improve colorectal cancer screening in a large Federally Qualified Health Center (California Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program); and a multi-level obesity control intervention trial set in preschools located in underserved neighborhoods (NICHD R01). Dr. Bastani is also involved in a study to identify gaps in clinical care processes contributing to low rates of diagnostic follow- up of abnormal findings on Fecal Immunochemical Testing (NCI R03); and an evaluation of effective approaches, and associated costs, for reducing the excess cervical cancer burden in Malawi (NCI R03).