Past Research: Professor Messeri’s wide-ranging research has explored the etiology and health consequences of substance use among inner-city residents; social support and health; community health promotion interventions; and the organization of health care systems for persons living with HIV. Throughout, unifying themes are: 1) a concern with understanding the sources of race and ethnic health inequality, and 2) the design and evaluation of community-based programs to reduce health disparities, with a focus on urban settings such as New York City and, in particular, Harlem. Beginning as a staff associate on Ann Brunswick’s pioneering life course study of an African American cohort that grew up in Harlem during the late 1950s, over 25 years in SMS, Messeri has risen to his current position as Professor of Clinical Sociomedical Sciences. He has been a principal investigator and co-investigator on numerous research grants and contracts funded by NIH, CDC, NSF, and Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), New York City and State. Messeri has collaborated with many of CUPC’s core faculty, including colleagues at the School of Social Work, the Graduate School Arts of Sciences, and Teachers College.
Present Research: Messeri’s recent research has focused on natural and field experiments that evaluate innovative methods of health care delivery to improve the health of minority and disadvantaged populations. Since 1994, he has been the PI of CHAIN (Community Health Advisory & Information Network), an exemplary academic-public partnership that has generated numerous reports on the changing health status of people living with HIV in the New York metro area and on the quality of care in HIV-related health and human services. The CHAIN project’s ongoing data collection (with a representative sample of New York residents with HIV) offers a unique resource for research with this population, and CHAIN study findings have broad implications for understanding the social determinants of access to care. Messeri’s work on the etiology and prevention of adolescent tobacco use includes serving as a consultant for the American Legacy Association and co-authoring two influential AJPH articles showing that, among national samples of middle and high school students, exposure to the national truth mass media campaign was associated with increases in critical beliefs about tobacco industry marketing practices and declines smoking prevalence. Messeri is also PI on two federally-funded randomized field trials of health care service delivery interventions, both of which integrate qualitative methods with multilevel statistical models. Finally, Messeri is Co-Director of the methods core of an NIMH-funded center of excellence to prevent homelessness (PI: Carol Caton), where he has collaborated with Andrew Gelman to develop software to perform multiple imputation information for a broad range of statistical models to make these methods more accessible for social science and public health researchers. Messeri’s career-long commitment to graduate training and mentoring junior faculty is reflected by his leadership in this area across many positions, including, for example, serving since 1999 as Deputy Chair of doctoral studies for SMS’s unique multi-disciplinary doctoral program and co-directing (with Connie Nathanson) the pre-doctoral training program in Gender, Sexuality and Health funded by NICHD.
Future Research: In collaboration with Hilary Silver from Brown University, Messeri will continue to document the extreme health disparities between New York City’s poorest and wealthiest zip codes, taking advantage of the unparalleled economic and ethnic heterogeneity in New York City to investigate the still-unresolved question about how neighborhood social organization and community resources operate on multiple health outcomes as well as their role in the well-established socioeconomic gradient in health. A second initiative, in collaboration with Connie Nathanson, is seeking to operationalize the concept of gender regime to well-established—but unexplained—complex interactions between gender, class and health.
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