Amani Allen

Amani M. Allen

Title
Executive Associate Dean and Associate Professor of Community Health Sciences and Epidemiology
Department
School of Public Health
Phone
(510) 643-1999
Fax
(510) 643-6426
Research Expertise and Interest
health inequities, race/ethnicity, socioeconomic position, stress and health, place and health, social determinants of health, cardiometabolic risk, birth outcomes
Research Description

Amani M. Allen is Associate Professor of Community Health Sciences and Epidemiology at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Public Health, where her research focuses on race and socioeconomic health disparities and the measurement and study of racism as a social determinant of health.

Her broad research interest is to integrate concepts, theories and methods from epidemiology and the social and biomedical sciences to examine racial inequalities in health as they exist across populations, across place, and over the life-course. Allen is Principal Investigator of the African American Women’s Heart & Health Study, which examines the association between racism stress, cardiometabolic risk, and biological stress more generally, among African American women in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is also Co-Principal Investigator of the Bay Area Heart Health Study which examines similar associations among African American men with an emphasis on coping and internalized racism. Her research has included work on doctor-patient race-concordance; the intersection of race, socioeconomic status, and gender on risk for psychological distress, disability, adult mortality, and child health and development; racial segregation; income inequality; and racism stress and a range of mental and physical health outcomes. Dr. Allen has published numerous academic articles in top scientific journals including the American Journal of Public Health, American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Annals of Epidemiology, Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences and Psychoneuroendocrinology, where her recent paper examining racial discrimination, educational attainment and biological dysregulation among African American women was recently named Editor’s Choice. Dr. Allen’s work has been featured on NPR, CBS, The Guardian, and the SF Chronicle, among others. She has received numerous awards for teaching excellence and as a junior faculty member was honored with the singular award for Distinguished Graduate Student Mentoring at the University of California Berkeley.

Allen received her Bachelor of Science (BS) in Biology from the University of Maryland, College Park, her Master of Public Health (MPH) from the George Washington University; and her Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) from the Johns Hopkins University. She was also a Robert Wood Johnson Health and Society Scholar at the University of California, San Francisco and Berkeley.

 

 

In the News

September 30, 2019

Does being a ‘superwoman’ protect African American women’s health?

The stereotype of the “strong black woman” is more than just a cultural trope: Many black women in America report feeling pressured to act like superwomen, projecting themselves as strong, self-sacrificing, and free of emotion to cope with the stress of race- and gender-based discrimination in their daily lives.

In the News

September 30, 2019

Does being a ‘superwoman’ protect African American women’s health?

The stereotype of the “strong black woman” is more than just a cultural trope: Many black women in America report feeling pressured to act like superwomen, projecting themselves as strong, self-sacrificing, and free of emotion to cope with the stress of race- and gender-based discrimination in their daily lives.

Featured in the Media

Please note: The views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or positions of UC Berkeley.
October 1, 2019
Kristen Parker
African-American women often feel they need to adopt a Superwoman persona -- showing great strength, being intensely driven to succeed, suppressing emotions, and sacrificing their own interests for the benefit of others -- in order to cope with the constant assault of racial discrimination, a new study has found. Co-authored by associate public health professor Amani Allen, a community health sciences and epidemiology expert, the study found both positive and negative health outcomes for women who coped this way. For example, being strong and suppressing emotions seemed to protect against the negative health effects of chronic racial discrimination, but attendant feelings related to the drive for success and sense of obligation exacerbated negative health effects associated with chronic stress. "For those aspects of the persona, or what we call 'Superwoman schema,' that worsen the negative health effects associated with racial discrimination, how do we lessen those risks?" Professor Allen asks. "And for those factors that are more protective, how do we leverage them to inform interventions designed to promote health and well-being for African-American women?" For more on this, see our press release at Berkeley News. Other stories on this topic appeared in Health News Digest and News Medical Life Sciences (Australia).
October 12, 2018
Drew Costley
A study of more than 200 middle-aged African American women in the Bay Area found that less-educated black women who report high levels of racial discrimination may face higher risk of developing chronic diseases. "Racial discrimination has many faces," says associate public health and epidemiology professor Amani Allen, the study's lead author. "It is not being able to hail a cab, getting poor service in stores and restaurants, being treated unfairly at work, being treated unfairly by police and law enforcement and being followed around in stores because of racial stereotypes. ... We found that experiencing racial discrimination repeatedly can create a state of biological imbalance that leaves certain groups of people more susceptible to chronic disease." Doctoral epidemiology student and co-author Marilyn Thomas adds: "Social stress has been associated with allostatic load. ... Prior work has also shown that racial discrimination itself is a particular stressor in the lives of African American women." For more on this, see our press release at Berkeley News.
FullStory (*requires registration)

Loading Class list ...
.