University of Pittsburgh
August 21, 2000

International Minority Health Expert Joins University of Pittsburgh Stephen B. Thomas Named Center Director, Hallen Chair

Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH, August 22 --The University of Pittsburgh has named Emory University professor Stephen B. Thomas as director for the Center for Minority Health in the Graduate School of Public Health and inaugural holder of the Philip Hallen Chair in Community Health and Social Justice.

In announcing the appointment, Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg said: "Stephen B. Thomas is one of the most highly qualified individuals in the nation to implement the mission of Pitt's Center for Minority Health. The Center exists to address issues and provide leadership for meeting health needs of minority populations through research, education and training, health policy development, and community service.

Dr. Thomas' distinguished career has been devoted to the advancement of such goals through his roles as researcher, teacher, shaper of health policy, and advocate for minority health issues.

"The University and the region are fortunate that we have attracted this internationally recognized leader to become the first occupant of the Philip Hallen Chair in Community Health and Social Justice and the director of the Center for Minority Health. Under Dr. Thomas' direction, the center will help advance the region's and the nation's disease prevention agenda and the elimination of ethnic disparities in health status," Nordenberg added.

"I am proud to serve as Center director and honored to hold the endowed chair named for Mr. Hallen, which comes with the responsibility of building collaboration between the Graduate School of Public Health and the School of Social Work," Thomas said. "I am very pleased that the University of Pittsburgh has made a long-term commitment to building the Center for Minority Health into a national model of excellence in community health. One key to success will be the extent to which minority communities are engaged as partners in all efforts to eliminate health disparities. This is both a challenge and opportunity worthy of our investment of time, energy, and resources."

"Dr. Thomas clearly fits the vision we had for filling the Philip Hallen Chair in Community Health and Social Justice," said Sigo Falk, chairman of the Maurice Falk Medical Fund. "We anticipate that he will make significant contributions to our community in minority health concerns."

On his first day as a Pitt faculty member, Thomas presented research findings at the 13th International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa. Thomas' research and expertise are in the area of health education and behavioral science. His published research includes, but is not limited to, drug abuse education and prevention, organ and tissue donation, youth violence, prevention of HIV infection through needle exchange and bleaching programs, and how the legacy of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study has shaped the attitudes and behaviors of African Americans toward medical research.

During his tenure at Emory, Thomas served on the advisory board for the Center on Ethics in Public Policy and the Professions and the President's Commission on the Status of Minorities. Additionally, he completed two years as a visiting scientist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Center on HIV/AIDS, TB, and STD Prevention. He previously taught at the University of Maryland, Southern Illinois University, and the University of North Carolina, Greensboro.

Dr. Thomas served as a member of the Institute of Medicine's Panel on the Prevention of Perinatal HIV Transmission. He is a fellow and a charter member of the American Academy of Health Behavior, and is a member of the International Union for Health Promotion and Education, the American Public Health Association, the Society for Public Health Education, and the American Association of Health Education. He is also associate editor of the journal Health Promotion Practice, and has served on the editorial boards for Health Education and Behavior and the Journal of Health Education.

A native of Columbus, Ohio, Thomas earned his BS degree in school health education and community health from the Ohio State University, a master's degree from Illinois State University and his Ph.D. from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, both in community health education.

The Graduate School of Public Health established the Center for Minority Health in 1994 to advance research and scholarship on the improvement of conditions affecting health status and health disparities of racial and ethnic minorities, culturally or otherwise diverse groups, individuals with special needs, and underserved populations.

The Philip Hallen Chair in Community Health and Social Justice was founded in 1999 to honor Hallen, the long-term president of the Maurice Falk Medical Fund. It is one of the first academic chairs ever named to honor the dedication and achievements of a foundation's leader.