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Meet the Team

Principal Investigator

Sarah Szanton

Sarah L. Szanton, PhD, ANP, FAAN

Principal Investigator

Dr. Sarah Szanton is the Dean and Patricia M. Davidson Health Equity and Social Justice Endowed Professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing. Her research focuses on structural racial discrimination and resilience, improving health equity among older adults, aging in community, and policies related to health.


Roland Thorpe PhD, MS


Dr. Roland Thorpe is the Associate Vice Provost of Faculty Diversity and a Professor in the Department of Health, Behavior, and Society in the Bloomberg School of Public Health. He also serves as Deputy Director of the Hopkins Center for Health Disparities Solutions, Co-Director of the Johns Hopkins Alzheimer’s Disease Resource Center for Minority Aging Research, and Co-Director of the Health Equity and Social Justice Concentration of the DrPH Program. Dr. Thorpe holds joint appointments in the Division of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology and the Department of Neurology in the School of Medicine, and the Department of Sociology in the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences. As a social epidemiologist and gerontologist, Dr. Thorpe research focuses on how race, socioeconomic status, and segregation influence health and well-being for African Americans, particularly African American men.

Dr. Karen Bandeen-Roche is the Hurley-Dorrier Professor and Chair in the Department of Biostatistics at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She holds a joint appointment at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Dr. Bandeen-Roche also serves as deputy director of the Johns Hopkins Institute for Clinical and Translational Research and is the director of the Epidemiology and Biostatistics of Aging Training Program. As a biostatistician, her research focuses on biostatistics and gerontology and creates statistical reasoning needed to learn how we can lengthen healthy life and increase independence for older adults.

Gilbert Gee, PhD


Dr. Gilbert C. Gee, Ph.D., is Professor and Chair in the Department of Community Health Sciences at the Fielding School of Public Health at UCLA. His research focuses on racism and other social determinants of health inequities among racial/ethnic and immigrant communities.

Dr. Deidra Crews is a nephrologist and a Professor of Medicine in the Division of Nephrology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.  She holds faculty appointments with the School of Nursing, the Welch Center for Prevention, Epidemiology and Clinical Research, the Center on Aging and Health, and the Center for Health Equity, where she is Deputy Director. Her research focuses on advancing equity in kidney disease and hypertension outcomes by focusing on social drivers of health inequities.

Dr. Melissa Hladek is an Assistant Professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing and a researcher-clinician focusing on how stress, self-efficacy, and sociocultural factors influence the biology of aging, chronic disease and frailty. Her research focuses on understanding the role of stress, coping and social determinants of health in aging and develop novel strengths-based, person-environment strategies and policies to mitigate these effects and center the patient’s voice in modern healthcare.

Dr. Laura Samuel is a nurse practitioner-turned-researcher who investigates income-based health disparities. Her research examines the pathways that link low income and financial strain to physiologic aging. This includes research investigating the health impact of policies and programs related to economic well-being for low-income households, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. She has also built a body of evidence demonstrating that financial strain contributes to aging-related health disparities.

Dr. Paris “AJ” Adkins-Jackson, PhD MPH is a multidisciplinary community-partnered health equity researcher and Assistant Professor in the Departments of Epidemiology and Sociomedical Sciences in the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University. Her research investigates the role of structural racism on healthy aging for historically marginalized populations like Black and Pacific Islander communities. Her primary project examines the role of life course adverse community-level policing exposure on psychological well-being, cognitive function, and biological aging for Black and Latinx/a/o older adults.

Dr. Emily Haozous is a Research Scientist at the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Her research focuses on cancer and healthcare inequities in American Indian/Alaska Native populations. She utilizes qualitative and mixed methods approaches that is rooted in an assets-based approach to research with indigenous communities.

Postdoctoral Fellow

Boeun Kim, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Boeun Kim received her PhD in nursing from the University of Washington in 2021 and MPH in epidemiology from the same school in 2022. Her dissertation/thesis investigated structural factors such as neighborhood walkability and air quality in relation to cognitive health or physical functioning in older adults. Dr. Kim’s research focuses on indicators of structural racism and resilience such as neighborhood food environment, residential segregation, and redlining and their relationships with cognitive function or dementia among older adults using a lifecourse and intersectionality approach.


Alicia Cooke

Senior Project Coordinator