Amani Nuru-Jeter

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

Dr. Nuru-Jeter is Professor of Community Health Sciences and Epidemiology.  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. Dr. Nuru-Jeter considers herself to be more “exposure” than “outcomes” focused, which is consistent with her interests in examining social factors such as “racism” "gender", and “socioeconomic position” as exposures that serve as the foundation for the creation and preservation of health disparities across numerous health outcomes. She is interested in how these social exposures determine life experiences and opportunities differently for different social groups and how those differences become embodied and impact mental and physical health and well being. I employ a mix of quantitative and qualitative data for understanding racial health inequities, informing the measurement of social determinants and addressing concerns related to internal validity challenges in research focused on racial equity and health.

Dr. Nuru-Jeter is Principal Investigator of the African American Women’s Heart & Health Study, which examines the association between social and environmental stressors (e.g., racism stress, neighborhood racial and socioeconomic composition), cardiometabolic risk, biological dysregulation and cellular aging among African American women in the Bay area. She is also Co-Investigator of the Bay Area Heart Health Study which examines similar associations among Black men with particular emphasis on implicit racial bias. My research has included work on doctor-patient race-concordance; the intersection of race, socioeconomic position and gender on risk for psychological distress, disability outcomes, adult mortality, and child health and development; racial segregation; income inequality; and racism stress and a range of mental and physical health outcomes.

Her work has been published 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 paper examining racial discrimination, educational attainment and biological dysregulation among African American women was named Editor’s Choice. Dr. Nuru-Jeter's work has been featured on NPR, CBS, The Guardian, Essence Magazine, and the SF Chronicle, among others; and she has been called upon by the news media (CNN, MSNBC) to share her expertise. 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.

Nuru-Jeter 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 UC Berkeley.



In the News

Becoming An Antiracist School of Public Health

A new paper describes the school's journey over a two-year period to establish an Antiracist Pedagogy Faculty Leadership Academy, a series of antiracism trainings for staff and non-faculty academics, and an elective course on antiracism for students.

Berkeley Public Health Is on the Frontline of Research into How Racism Affects Public Health

Race- and ethnicity-based inequities in health outcomes for Americans are not news to public health specialists. Here at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health, our faculty, researchers, and students have been working to illuminate the many ways in which racism affects who gets healthcare, how that healthcare is delivered, and possible solutions to entrenched problems like police brutality.

Coronavirus: science and solutions

While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to devastate communities around the world, researchers at UC Berkeley are racing to find solutions that will both secure our health and help get the economy back on its feet.

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.
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