The University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute has named leading population health researcher Lawrence Brown, Ph.D., as the next director of County Health Rankings & Roadmaps.

Brown is an expert on health equity and the impact of historical trauma on community health.

Brown is currently an associate professor in the School of Community Health and Policy at Morgan State University. In addition to his research on historical trauma, Brown works within the Baltimore community to advance racial and health equity.

The County Health Rankings & Roadmaps is a partnership between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. Over the last decade, the effort has aimed to deepen the national conversation about factors that impact health and equity by providing data, guidance, evidence and stories demonstrating how location matters to health and equity.

Brown’s community work and extensive understanding of the social determinants of health align well with the goals of the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, according to David Kindig, M.D., Ph.D., a founder of the program and chair of the search committee to hire Brown.

“The combination of Dr. Brown’s scholarship, vision and passion for population heath and equity, and exceptional communication skills make him an exciting leader for continuing and expanding this work,” he said.

Brown’s background as the grandson of Mississippi Delta sharecroppers and preachers honed his interest in racial and health equity from an early age. He has spent his career elevating the importance of health equity through his scholarly endeavors, robust community work and numerous media appearances.

Brown earned his doctorate in health outcomes and policy research from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, his master’s degree in public administration from the University of Houston, and his bachelor’s degree in African American studies from Morehouse College. From 2010 to 2012, Brown was a postdoctoral research fellow in the W.K. Kellogg Health Scholars Program at Morgan State University School of Community Health and Policy. His professional accolades included being honored in 2018 by Open Society Institute-Baltimore with a Bold Thinker award for his contribution to the discourse regarding racial segregation in the city.

“Dr. Brown’s unique experience at the intersection of equity, community transformation and data will help County Health Rankings & Roadmaps write a new and exciting chapter in the story of the program,” said Richard Besser, M.D., president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “We look forward to working with him and welcome his fresh ideas on how to bring partners together to create fair and just opportunities for better health.”

Brown expressed excitement about the ability of the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps to equip communities to build on their assets, and thus address challenges.

“I’m fired up about taking rankings, maps, stories and data to the people so that the Wisconsin Idea – that research can solve real life problems – can transform America’s forgotten and neglected places into thriving and healthy neighborhoods,” he said.

Brown’s appointment is effective Dec. 30, 2019.