Sarah Gehlert, Professor in the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago, and a leading authority on the connections between social work and health care, will serve as President-Elect of the Society for Social Work and Research and begin a two-year term as President in 2008.
“I represent the organization’s members to the research community, notably to the National Institutes of Health and to the legislature. I intend to work at forging ties with other professional organizations in the field to raise the profile of social and behavioral research in this time in which they are challenged,” Gehlert said.
“We plan to work with organizations, such as the American Psychological Association,” which conducts social and behavioral research to demonstrate its importance in the health and well-being of the U.S. population, said Gehlert. “In this environment, in which research funds at the national level are compromised, we need to demonstrate that social and behavioral research complements and extends basic research.”
Gehlert, who is Deputy Dean for Research at the SSA, Professor in the Institute of Mind and Biology and Director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Health Disparities Research, is particularly interested in research related to women’s health and social factors that impact group differences in health.
The center, which draws on many of Gehlert’s research interests, received a $9.7 million federal grant to develop an interdisciplinary approach to study why African-American women have an unusually high rate of breast cancer at an early age.
The co-editor of the recently published Handbook of Health Social Work, Gehlert has published broadly on issues about the interactions of genes and environment, women’s health and mental health, psychosocial aspects of epilepsy and other chronic health conditions, as well as issues on maternal and child health.
One of her major research projects was the investigation of the diagnostic validity of premenstrual dysphoric disorder. That project led to the publication of several papers, including “Symptom Patterns of Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder as Defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-IV” and “Differentiating Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder from Premenstrual Exacerbations of Other Disorders: A Methods Dilemma.”
Gehlert serves on the editorial boards of Research in Social Work Practice and Social Work Research.
She received an M.A. in anthropology and an M.S.W. from the University of Missouri-Columbia, and a Ph.D. in Social Work from the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University, St Louis.