Social work professor wins competitive national research award to improve community health outcomes

Wayne State University School of Social Work (SSW) Assistant Professor, Jason Carbone, PhD, recently received an email from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) with the subject line “Your NIH LRP award!”

Jason Carbone smilingThe award stems from the NIH Loan Repayment Programs (LRPs), established by Congress to recruit and retain highly qualified health professionals into biomedical or biobehavioral research careers. LRPs help offset researchers’ educational debt by repaying up to $50,000 annually, in exchange for a commitment to engage in NIH mission-relevant research. Carbone’s award was funded under the health disparities research program.

“I am very excited and grateful to receive this award,” said Carbone, who joined the School’s faculty in 2019.

“This is a great opportunity for me to get my foot in the door with NIH. It is a first step that helps to raise my profile as a researcher. It shows that there is at least some level of interest in my research at NIH, specifically at the National Institute of Aging (NIA). I’m hoping to leverage that as I apply for other research funding opportunities.”

Carbone’s research focuses on the study of social, behavioral, and biological determinants of physical and mental health within African American and socioeconomically disadvantaged communities.

The 10 years he spent as a community social worker helped shape his current research path.

I watched the challenges children faced just walking to school. Everything from environmental injustices to epidemic gun violence, mostly stemming from decades of disinvestment and structural racism. I also saw how the power of community, family, and neighborhood ties provided strength and support to these kids, despite these challenges. - Jason Carbone

Carbone is particularly interested in studying the cumulative effect of stress on health outcomes, and how social determinants of health (factors such as gender, race, sex, age, and socioeconomic status) impact community-level stressors and lead to negative health outcomes.

SSW Professor and Associate Dean for Research, Richard Smith, PhD is Carbone’s research mentor.

“We were very excited to hire Dr. Carbone because he very intentionally bridges the gap between community engagement and health data. Jason knows how to make data accessible to community residents and listen to community residents to find out what data they can use for healthy living,” said Smith.

In 2021, Carbone became director of the Master of Social Work (MSW)/Master of Public Health (MPH) Joint Degree Program.

“I really enjoy working with students as they fuse the best of social work and public health. We have so many great students that are passionate about addressing issues of social injustice and social disparities related to health. It’s great to see future practitioners so focused on these issues. It motivates me to be a better social worker and researcher.”

Ultimately, he hopes to use his research findings to develop effective, evidence-based interventions.

“I am thrilled that Jason has achieved this validation of the importance of his research. He is a great asset to our School of Social Work and the Detroit community,” said Sheryl Kubiak, PhD, the School’s dean.

Author: Laura Hipshire,

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