Adler honored by Academic Senate for work in clinical science research

Nancy Adler, PhD, has been named as the recipient of the UCSF Academic Senate’s 15th Annual Faculty Research Lectureship – Clinical Science for her trailblazing research on socioeconomic determinants of health. Her lecture, entitled “Social Determinants of Health: Power, Population, and Precision,” will be delivered on Tuesday, November 17 at 3:30 p.m. in N-227 on the Parnassus campus. The event is open to the campus community and general public, and will also be streamed live.

The Faculty Research Lectureship – Clinical Science is bestowed annually on an individual member of the UCSF faculty with outstanding achievements in clinical research. Nominations are made by UCSF faculty, who consider the research contributions of their colleagues and submit nominations for this prestigious honor to the Academic Senate Committee on Research.

Adler becomes only the second female recipient of the honor, as well as the fourth Department of Psychiatry faculty member to be honored on the clinical research side since the award’s inception in 2001. Previous honorees from Psychiatry are Neal Benowitz, MD (2002); Bruce Miller, MD (2012); and Kristine Yaffe, MD (2013).

About Nancy Adler

One of the world’s eminent and accomplished social scientists, at the time Nancy Adler, PhD, began her tenure at UCSF in 1977, there was little attention given to the marked differences in morbidity and mortality associated with socioeconomic conditions. Her landmark papers in JAMA and American Psychologists demonstrating that socioeconomic status was linked to health across the whole range of socioeconomic status challenged common explanations for health disparities.

As director of the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Socioeconomic Status and Health for 15 years, Adler influenced the NIH agenda by organizing a scientific meeting at the NIH attended by more than 400 researchers and  staff. The MacArthur network contributed fundamental concepts and approaches to studying the mechanisms responsible for health disparities.

Adler has published over 250 peer-reviewed publications, more than one hundred of which have been published since the start of 2010. Of particular note, she has developed a measure of subjective social status that is strongly linked to health outcomes (independent of objective socioeconomic status) which is used internationally.

In addition to health disparities, she has greatly informed women’s health and reproductive health. Testing core psychological theories of “rational choice” to examine determinants and consequences of unwanted pregnancy, her work has demonstrated the capacity of adolescents to make rational choices while also showing the limitations of the model to fully account for behavior and informing development of strategies to increase effective contraceptive use. Adler’s research and writings on abortion, including an influential article in Science, has informed legislation and judicial decisions regarding restrictions on the procedure.

Adler has also been a generous and effective mentor for junior faculty and students. She has received numerous awards including the 2009 Lifetime Achievement in Mentoring Award and the 2014 Holly Smith Award for Exceptional Service to the UCSF School of Medicine.

She was selected by Thomas Reuters in 2014 as one of the “World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds,” and has received the Distinguished Scientific Award from the American Psychological Association and the James McKeen Cattell Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Psychological Society. In addition to the acclaim she has received for her contributions to the field of psychology, she has been recognized as a leading researcher in women’s health with the Marion Spencer Fay Award.

Adler is a member of both the American Academy of Arts and Science and the Institute of Medicine (IOM), and has been selected for major leadership roles in the latter. She was elected by the IOM membership to serve on its Governing Council and Executive Committee. She is a professor and vice chair in the UCSF Departments of Psychiatry and Pediatrics, and director of the Center for Health and Community. She received her PhD from Harvard University in 1973.

About UCSF Psychiatry

The UCSF Department of Psychiatry and the Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute are among the nation's foremost resources in the fields of child, adolescent, adult and geriatric mental health. Together they constitute one of the largest departments in the UCSF School of Medicine, with a mission focused on research (basic, translational, clinical), teaching, patient care, and public service. UCSF Psychiatry has an organizational structure that crosses all major UCSF sites - Parnassus, Mission Bay, Laurel Heights, Mt. Zion, San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center, the San Francisco VA Medical Center and UCSF Fresno.