Social and Biological Determinants of Health Working Group


Jenny Tung leads the interinstitutional and multidisciplinary Social and Biological Determinants of Health Working Group. The Group consists of CPHA and Carolina Population Center (CPC) scholars and other faculty from Duke, the University of North Carolina, North Carolina State University and Wake Forest University. The Group's goals include:

  • Identifying the major outstanding challenges in understanding the social and biological determinants of health across species
  • Developing interdisciplinary collaborations to overcome these challenges  

With a focus on bridging gaps across disciplines, the Group encourages dialogue between, and contributions from, sociologists, demographers, physiologists, evolutionary biologists, epidemiologists and geneticists. Working Group activities include a seminar series co-presented by human health behavior and animal researchers, research talks at the annual Duke-UNC Demography Daze seminar and a jointly-authored review on congruence between studies of social adversity and health in humans and other animals.

New collaborative research and training/mentorship opportunities for postdoctoral students and junior faculty include recent pilot awards to Susan Alberts for her project, Effects of Maternal Early Life Adversity on Maternal Care and Offspring Survival in Wild Baboons, and to Dan Belsky and Jenny Tung for their work on the Development of Quantifications of Biological Age in Rhesus Monkeys to Test Causal Effects of Early-Developmental Stress and Social Status on The Rate of Aging

Five junior researchers form the Group have now established independent research programs at Columbia, University of Washington, Vanderbilt, University of Texas, San Antonio, and University of California, Irvine that overlap with working group interests.