Thomas LaVeist

Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine

Dr. Thomas LaVeist is a leading researcher on the topic of health disparities and the social determinants of health, including areas such as U.S. health and social policy, the role of race in health research, social factors contributing to mortality, longevity, and life expectancy, and the utilization of health services in the United States.

Dean LaVeist came to Tulane from the Milken Institute of Public Health at George Washington University, where he was the chair of the Department of Health Policy and Management. He also spent 25 years at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, where he was the William C. and Nancy F. Richards Professor in Health Policy and the director of the Hopkins Center for Health Disparities Solutions. In addition to being dean at the Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, he is also the Weatherhead Presidential Chair in Health Equity.

The dean’s considerable experience in health disparities has been instrumental in the advent of COVID-19, which has been shown to impact minority communities much more severely due to a number of factors. Dean LaVeist has been a fervent voice in national media calling attention to this issue and was named as a co-chair of the Louisiana COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force by Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards. Through the task force and through his own social marketing campaign called The Skin You’re In: Coronavirus and Black America, he is endeavoring to not only dispel myths and raise awareness in the Black community about staying healthy in the midst of pandemic, he is also seeking a new normal that will create lasting change and will significantly reduce health disparities in the state and the region.

LaVeist holds a doctorate in medical sociology from the University of Michigan and is an elected member of the prestigious National Academy of Medicine. Dr. LaVeist has published more than 130 articles in scientific journals, focusing on the social and behavioral factors that impact health outcomes, and has engaged in these issues through lectures and articles in major media. He was also executive producer of the documentary The Skin You’re In, which explores the disparities between black and white health in America.

Dean LaVeist has won numerous awards and honors, including the ICON Award from Associated Black Charities; the Article of the Year in the American Journal of Public Health; being named a Health Disparities Research W. Montague Cobb/National Medical Association Health Institute Senior Fellow; and the Innovation Award from the National Institutes of Health – National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities.

Dr. LaVeist’s research and writing has focused on three broad thematic research questions: 1) The social and behavioral factors that predict the timing of various related health outcomes (e.g. access and utilization of health services, mortality, entrance into nursing home; 2) The social and behavioral factors that explain race differences in health outcomes; and 3) The impact of social policy on the health and quality of life of African Americans. Specific areas of expertise include: U.S. health and social policy, the role of race in health research, social factors contributing to mortality, longevity and life expectancy, quantitative and demographic analysis and access, and utilization of health services.

After spending the majority of his career in the northeast, he's excited about the opportunity to be at Tulane where he hopes the school - one of the foundational schools of public health in the country - can make a difference by helping to make both New Orleans and Louisiana healthier places to live.