Research Centers and Programs

Explore the Dornsife School of Public Health’s research centers and programs that allow faculty to focus on targeted research and engage students in specific areas of public health practice. These centers and projects reflect the school’s commitment to working closely with community resources, and partnering with health professionals, locally and nationally.


A.J. Drexel Autism Institute

The A.J. Drexel Autism Institute is the first research organization dedicated to bringing a public health approach to the challenges presented by autism spectrum disorders. The interdisciplinary team of world class researchers employ various disciplines of public health science to generate and translate knowledge about autism’s character, causes, and consequences into community-based action to improve the lives of individuals affected by ASD and their families. Craig Newschaffer, PhD is the Director of this institute.

Center for Firefighter Injury Research & Safety Trends (FIRST)

The FIRST Center is a research enterprise organized to support the U.S. fire and rescue service through objective data collection and analysis. Their work is focused on three major areas: Injury Data Evaluation & Analysis (IDEA), Fire Service Organizational Culture of Safety (FOCUS), and Stress and Violence in fire-based EMS Responders (SAVER). The FIRST Center also sponsors the Fire Service Injury Research, Epidemiology, and Evaluation (FIRE) Fellowship: a paid summer internship that gives students the opportunity to work with real world data, serve community partners with data, and get immersed in the fire service through field experiences. Jennifer Taylor, PhD, MPH, CPPS is the Director of this center.

Center for Hunger-Free Communities

The Center for Hunger-Free Communities is a research, advocacy, and policy center that develops solutions to the challenges of hunger and poverty based on science and the human experience. The Center’s programs include the Building Wealth and Health Network, Children’s HealthWatch, the EAT Café, and Witnesses to Hunger. Mariana Chilton, PhD, MPH is the Director of the Center.

Center for Nonviolence and Social Justice

The Center for Nonviolence and Social Justice aims to promote health, nonviolence and social justice through trauma-informed practice, research, professional development, and advocacy for policy change. Their work is focused in four major areas: Healing Hurt People – A Violence Intervention Program, Training, Research, and Policy. John Rich, MD, MPH is the Director of this center.

Center for Public Health Readiness and Communication

The Center for Public Health Readiness and Communication conducts research and provides service and education in the field of public health emergency preparedness. The Center’s mission is to build public health infrastructure and capacity for disaster response and recovery, and enhance community preparedness and resilience, with a particular interest in improving outcomes for individuals who may be at risk for severe consequences after disasters. Esther Chernak, MD, MPH, FACP is the Director of this center.

Urban Health Collaborative

The mission of the Urban Health Collaborative (UHC) is to improve health in cities by increasing scientific knowledge and public awareness of health and health variation within cities, and by promoting urban policies and partnerships that promote health and reduce health inequalities. Ana Diez Roux, MD, PhD, MPH is the Director of the UHC and Gina Lovasi, PhD, MPH is Co-Director.


The Council on Black Health

Formerly known as the African American Collaborative Obesity Research Network (AACORN), The Council on Black Health a network of scholars and community-based research partners located in more than 20 United States cities. The Council and its partners foster dialogue on Black health issues and generate and disseminate solutions to achieve healthy Black communities. Shiriki Kumanyika, PhD, MPH, is the founder and chair of the program and Sheldon Oliver Watts PhD, MPH, is the national director.

Maternal Child Health (MCH) Program

The MCH Program is a multidisciplinary coalition of academics, clinicians and students who strive to improve the health of women and children through education and research. The mission of the MCH Program is to promote education and research, inform policy, and train leaders to improve the health and well-being of women, children, and families. Renee Turchi, MD, MPH is the Chair of program.

Still have a question or spot an error? Please contact AskDornsife.