Agbai named Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Research Scholar

September 7, 2017

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] – Chinyere Agbai, a predoctoral trainee at the Population Studies and Training Center (PSTC), has been selected for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Health Policy Research Scholars program, which provides a leadership development opportunity for predoctoral students who bring unique and diverse perspectives to their research and want to do research to advance health equity. 

Agbai, a second-year graduate student in Brown’s Sociology PhD program, studies urban sociology, health inequality, and poverty, race, and ethnicity. Her research is focused on “how gentrification impacts the health of the original occupants of a neighborhood” with an aim of providing “policymakers and community organizations insights that they can employ when considering urban development strategies,” she said.

“Chinyere’s approach to advancing health equity through focusing on complex societal inequalities and their expression in neighborhoods is critically important,” said PSTC Director Susan Short. “Her research agenda promises to shed light on the extra-medical factors that shape health and well-being.”

Agbai’s research aligns well with the goal of the Health Policy Research Scholars program to create “a large cadre of diverse doctoral students from a wide variety of research-focused disciplines—students whose research, connections, and leadership will inform and influence policy toward a Culture of Health.”

Action areas for the program include “Creating Healthier, More Equitable Communities” and “Making Health a Shared Value,” both of which Agbai addresses in her research.

“Because my research is concerned with the effect of gentrification on incumbent resident health, it is inextricably linked to questions of rising rent and the displacement of low-income residents,” she said.

Longitudinal data will play an important role in Agbai’s investigation as to whether neighborhood gentrification leads to a decline in original residents’ social ties. She said, “This will further illuminate the effect of social ties on minority and low-income resident health in these kinds of tumultuous neighborhood contexts.”

As a Health Policy Research Scholar, Agbai will receive an annual stipend of up to $30,000 for up to four years. Scholars may continue in the program, without the annual stipend, during the fifth year or until completion of their doctoral program, whichever occurs first.

In addition to this award, Agbai has been selected as one of five PSTC fellows for the 2017-2018 academic year, funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

- Jo Fisher