The Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion was established in 2011 with an endowment from Sid and Helaine Lerner. The Center’s mission is to improve population and community health through research, education, and outreach focused on the social, spatial, and structural determinants of physical, mental, and behavioral health and health disparities.

The Lerner Center is guided by the principles of scientific rigor, equity, justice, community engagement, and multidisciplinary and multi-institution collaboration. Today’s population health challenges are complex. Solving these challenges and building environments that value and promote health for everyone requires expertise from multiple scientific disciplines and public and private partners. The Center works in partnership with researchers, students, and community organizations to conduct timely research, identify needs, collaboratively develop and deploy programs, and advocate for evidence-based policy and practice change.

Research

Improving population health requires skills and expertise from a range of academic disciplines and community partners. Lerner Center Research Affiliates come from multiple disciplines, have expertise in numerous methodological approaches, and conduct high-impact research on the social, spatial, and structural determinants of various physical, mental, and behavioral health outcomes and disparities. Our affiliates’ research is regularly funded by the National Institutes of Health, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Russell Sage Foundation, and many other federal agencies and foundations. The Lerner Center funds population health research at SU through its Faculty Fellows Program.

The Lerner Center also collaborates and cosponsors research events and activities with other SU centers and institutes, including the Center for Policy Research, the Aging Studies Institute, and the Center for Aging and Policy Studies. Together with the Aging Studies Institute, the Lerner Center leads the Population Health Subcluster of SU’s larger Aging, Health, and Neuroscience research cluster. Lerner Center Director, Shannon Monnat, co-leads the Interdisciplinary Network on Rural Population Health and Aging, funded by the National Institute on Aging. Read more about the Lerner Center’s current research projects and initiatives to promote population health research.

Education

Students within Maxwell and the university-at-large seek careers with meaning and purpose. The Lerner Center aims to provide both graduate and undergraduate students a distinctive experience that combines traditional and applied training in population health and community health research and engagement to address pressing local, regional, and national health problems and reduce health inequities. At the graduate level, the Center contributes to the Certificate of Advanced Studies in Population Health and Aging. Our Lerner Graduate Fellows and Graduate Research Assistants participate in Lerner Lab, and the Lerner Center co-sponsors the Policy, Place, and Population Health Lab. Collectively, these Labs serve as vibrant hubs for multidisciplinary research and training on population health. Undergraduate students also participate as research assistants in many of our research projects. In addition, we host a service learning program for undergraduates who want to gain expertise in and experience with developing community health promotion programs and resources. We also developed and lead the DeStress for Success Program – a five week workshop series designed to give students simple, practical, and fun ways to navigate life’s stressors. Read more about the Lerner Center’s educational programming.

Outreach and Community Engagement

Walk with a Doc event in Oneida
Community residents of Oneida County come together for a Monday Mile “Walk with a Doc” event.

The Lerner Center was designed to prominently feature the Healthy Monday Campaigns – a national public health initiative to end chronic preventable diseases by offering weekly prompts to support people and organizations in starting and sustaining healthy behaviors. We have paralleled these campaigns with various community health and education initiatives that aim to address pressing population health challenges, such as the U.S. drug overdose and mental health crises and COVID-19. The Center has strong partnerships with local health care institutions and other community organizations that support and promote individual and community health and aim to improve health equity. Read more about our outreach and community engagement activities.

Statement on Systemic Racism and Racialized Violence

Racism, systemic biases, and racialized violence are ongoing threats to population health. It is not possible to achieve health equity without addressing racial injustices and their structural roots. Racism kills both directly and indirectly and is embedded in every U.S. institution. As both scholars and concerned citizens, it is our responsibility to speak out against racism and injustice in all forms. Recognizing that words are not enough, the Lerner Center is committed to conducting, supporting, and disseminating the findings from research on the causes and consequences of racial health inequities and advocating for solutions to eliminate these inequities. We stand in solidarity with those opposing racism and racialized violence, and we will continue to work toward promoting a healthier and more just society.