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Health Disparities Strategic Cluster Hire


At the broadest level, the goals for this cluster are to improve health in the community, state, region, nation, and world by identifying, understanding, and addressing health needs and health disparities. A special focus of the cluster is on the disadvantaged segments of these populations, which are often underserved by existing health care systems due to historically unequal treatment or injustice. Research aimed at identifying the source of disparities and acting to alleviate them encompasses approaches that range from broadly based population studies to carefully-controlled laboratory-based experimental models aimed at identifying mechanisms by which disparities act.

To accomplish these goals, research scientists within the Health Disparities cluster form multidisciplinary collaborative research teams and partnerships to devise highly competitive research proposals designed to identify, understand, and remediate health disparities. Membership in this cluster is diverse and research interests of faculty scientists in the cluster range from areas of biomedicine, including obesity, diabetes, dementia, developmental disabilities, and cancer to socio-ecological factors that influence health and health-related behavioral decisions, including environmental contaminants, substance abuse, dietary and exercise choices, income levels and accessibility to available services related to somatic and mental health, and attitudes concerning preferred body sizes and satisfaction with body size.  Research strategies include population-based epidemiological studies, employment of large-scale databases, and experimental and interventional studies with humans and laboratory animals.

The health disparities cluster also is committed to the dissemination and translation of research discoveries to the widest range of potential audiences. These audiences include the relevant scientific communities, clinical professionals who act directly to maintain and promote public health, policy makers, the participants in research studies, and the public at large. Through dissemination and translation, the cluster members affect science, policy, and practices related to health and health disparities.

Members of the cluster are also committed to interdisciplinary education and training of undergraduate and graduate students that crosses traditional academic boundaries of colleges, schools, and departments, in order to train a new generation of health disparities scholars and practitioners. This commitment is realized through inclusion of both undergraduate and graduate students in ongoing research, serving as guest lecturers in courses currently being taught at Auburn and development of seminars and courses not currently offered at Auburn University.

Health Disparities Expertise across Campus

Health Disparities Steering Committee


Positions Filled:

School of Kinesiology: Dr. Michael Brown

Department of Human Development and Family Studies: Dr. David Chae

Harrison School of Pharmacy: Dr. Chia-Hung (Edward) Chou

Department of Nutrition, Dietetics and Hospitality Management: Dr. Geetha Thangiah


Positions to be Filled:

School of Nursing


Sponsoring Colleges/Schools 

The Health Disparities cluster includes members from 10 colleges and schools at Auburn University:

College of Agriculture
College of Education
College of Architecture, Design and Construction
School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences
College of Human Sciences
College of Liberal Arts
School of Nursing
Harrison School of Pharmacy
College of Science and Mathematics
College of Veterinary Medicine
Alabama Cooperative Extension System

For this initiative the College of Human Sciences, the Harrison School of Pharmacy, the School of Nursing, the College of Liberal Arts, and the College of Education served as cluster sponsors by identifying open positions within the unit that would be designated as having a primary research focus on health disparities.

Contact Information

Brian E. Vaughn, Ph.D.
Health Disparities Cluster Leader

Department of Human Development & Family Studies
203 Spidle Hall Auburn University, AL 36849
(334) 844-3235

Last June 28, 2016: May 22, 2018