The Lerner Center conducts, coordinates, and promotes population and community health research focused on the social, spatial, and structural determinants of physical, mental, and behavioral health. With 20 faculty affiliates from public health, sociology, psychology, economics, medicine, and public administration, the Lerner Center’s approach to research is both multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary. Read about our current projects.

Population Health Research Brief Series

Our Population Health Research Brief Series describes findings from research conducted by our Center affiliates and other colleagues and presents expert perspectives on pressing population health issues affecting us locally, regionally, and nationally. The series focuses on social, spatial, and structural determinants of physical, mental, and behavioral health. Sign up to receive the Population Health Research Brief Series here.

Faculty Fellows Program

The objective of the Lerner Center Faculty Fellows Program is to enhance population health research at Syracuse University through grants that support innovative programs, activities, analysis, and dissemination of research that aims to prevent disease and early death and improve population health. We are particularly interested in funding projects that emphasize the “upstream” or social, structural, and policy determinants of health. Read about our current and previous Faculty Fellow projects.

SU Population Health Subcluster

There are multiple enduring and emerging population health challenges in the U.S. and globally. Such challenges include population aging, the health effects of climate change, the rise and spread of new diseases and behavioral health epidemics, and weak infrastructures to deal with these challenges. The population health approach recognizes that multiple conditions and factors – biological, behavioral, economic, social, environmental, health care system, geographic, historical, and policy – interact to influence the health of populations over the life course, identifies systematic variation in their distribution and patterns of occurrence, and applies the resulting knowledge to develop and implement policies and actions to improve population health and well-being. The Population Health subcluster is a component of SU’s larger research initiative in Aging, Health, and Neuroscience. Many of the Lerner Center’s faculty affiliates are part of the Population Health Subcluster. The subcluster engages in outreach, research, and training through the Lerner Center and the Policy, Place, and Population Health Lab.

Policy, Place, and Population Lab

The P3H Lab is a vibrant hub of interdisciplinary research and training on how places and their policies shape people’s ability to live long and health lives. Most of the P3H Lab’s research is organized around two major themes. In Theme A our research examines how U.S. state policies – and changes in those policies since the early 1980’s – have affected population health. We are particularly interested in the consequences of state policies for subgroups of the population, such as adults with relatively low levels of formal education.

In Theme B our research examines how local (i.e., county, neighborhood) conditions and their changes affect population health. This line of research has a particular focus on rural people and places and understanding variation in population health along the US rural-urban continuum. The P3H Lab is co-directed by Dr. Jennifer Karas Montez, Professor of Sociology and Director of the Center for Aging and Policy Studies, and Dr. Shannon Monnat, Associate Professor of Sociology and Director of the Lerner Center.

Policy, Place, Pop Health Lab Header Card

Interdisciplinary Network on Rural Population Health and Aging

The Interdisciplinary Network on Rural Population Health and Aging (INRPHA), co-led by Lerner Center Director Shannon Monnat, facilitates innovative research on the multilevel and multidimensional exposures shaping and being shaped by health and aging trends among different rural populations and regions in the United States. The network is funded by the National Institute on Aging (R24-AG065159).

Demographic Change in Rural America

The Lerner Center participates in the USDA-supported multistate and multi-institution research team, W4001: Social, Economic and Environmental Causes and Consequences of Demographic Change in Rural America. W4001 members conduct research on the most pressing demographic, economic, social, and environmental challenges faced by rural communities in the U.S. Rural areas are constantly changing, and many face challenges such as limited access to healthcare, education, broadband internet, and jobs. Events like the Great Recession, the drug overdose epidemic, and the COVID-19 pandemic have highlighted how such challenges can lead to major disruptions to the environmental, economic, social, and physical wellbeing of rural communities. W4001’s findings have contributed to numerous local, state and national policies that support rural sustainability and well-being. The team includes over 40 social scientists across 28 colleges and universities spanning all regions of the U.S. In 2020, W4001 won the National Excellence in Multistate Research Award from the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities and the USDA. This prestigious and highly competitive award recognizes scientists who conduct exemplary research and outreach efforts across multiple states and in doing so enhance the visibility of USDA multistate programs.

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. The Lerner Center co-coordinates the annual Herbert Lourie Memorial Lecture on Health Policy with the Center for Policy Research.