Department of Health Studies

Department of Health Studies

The Department of Health Studies is a vibrant and growing department that equips students with theoretical and empirical frameworks for understanding the social, cultural, environmental, biological, psychological, ethical, economic, legal, and policy contexts that shape individual and population health. Department alumni work in medicine and other clinical professions, public heath, healthcare policy and management, and many other health-related fields.

Major & MinorCourses

Race, Capital, Financialization talk

Race, Capital and the Financialization of Health Politics

Colleen Grogan and Guian McKee will explain how the public has been intentionally misled about the true role of government in U.S. health care. The U.S. government has always invested federal, state, and local dollars in public health protection and prevention. Despite this public funding, however, Americans typically believe the current system is predominantly comprised of private actors with little government interference. As both authors reveal, the U.S. has never had a system that resembles a competitive, free-market model. So, before sweeping reform can ever fix America’s broken health care system, we must have an honest discussion about the significant public investment buoying the private sector. This panel also focuses on urban hospitals and academic medical centers. The country’s high level of health care spending has allowed such institutions to become vital, if often problematic, economic anchors for communities. Yet this spending has constrained possibilities for comprehensive health care reform over many decades, even after the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010. And the role of hospitals in urban renewal, in community health provision, and as employers of low-wage workers has contributed directly to racial health disparities.

Sponsored by the Department of Health Studies,The Department of Political Science, the Africana Studies Program, and the Business School.

Margaret and Courtney

Health Studies Welcomes New Assistant Professors

The UR Department of Health Studies is pleased to welcome two new tenure-track assistant professors in August 2023.

Dr. Courtney Blondino earned a PhD in Epidemiology from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2021 and an MPH from the University of Kentucky in 2017. She worked as a management consultant for several years after earning her doctoral degree. Her research focuses on mental health, substance use, and health behaviors.   

Dr. Margaret Tait earned a PhD in Health Services Research, Policy, and Administration from the University of Minnesota in 2023 and an MPH from Johns Hopkins University in 2017. She previously worked for AmeriCorps VISTA and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Her research focuses on how news and social media shape perceptions of U.S. health policy. 

The department has moved to a new office suite on the ground floor of Richmond Hall (Richmond G21) that includes workspaces for student researchers.  Students interested in contributing to research projects are welcome to reach out to any full-time HS professors to discuss potential opportunities for involvement in their investigations.   

photo of Dr. Kathryn Jacobsen

Jacobsen Wins National Teaching Award 

Dr. Kathryn H. Jacobsen, a professor in the Health Studies department and holder of the William E. Cooper Distinguished University Chair, received the 2023 Velji Global Health Award for Teaching Excellence from the Consortium of Universities for Global Health (CUGH).   

This award honors an outstanding educator whose teaching and mentorship has had a significant impact on improving the lives of people living in areas where access to health care is lacking. Jacobsen is a global health epidemiologist who has authored two widely used textbooks as well as more than 200 peer-reviewed scientific articles, many written with student coauthors.  

“Kathryn welcomes the opportunity to mentor Richmond student researchers and is a wonderful example of the mentorship opportunities forged on our campus,” said Dr. Jenny Cavenaugh, dean of the UR School of Arts & Sciences. “She is a leading expert in her field, and she is training her students to positively influence global health issues.” 


Dr. Margaret Tait
Tait Published

Margaret Tait, assistant professor of health studies, published "Federal Student Loan Debt in Public Health and the Opportunities for Loan Repayment Programs" in Public Health Reports.

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Dr. B. Rick Mayes
Mayes Presented

Rick Mayes, professor of health policy, delivered the opening keynote presentation for the Virginia Association of Free & Charitable Clinics 2023 Annual Conference. He also presented healthcare policy research talks for the 2023 Annual Scientific Meeting of the Virginia Dermatological Society and the January 2024 General Meeting of the Albemarle Medical Society.

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Dr. Kathryn H. Jacobsen
Jacobsen Published

Kathryn Jacobsen, William E. Cooper Distinguished University Chair and professor of health studies published "Conservation and Health Policy Implications Linked to the Human Consumption of Sea Turtles in Northwestern Mexico" in the journal World Medical and Health Policy.

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Dr. Courtney Blondino
Blondino Published

Courtney Blondino, assistant professor of health studies, published "Wiring the Community Health Worker: A Winning Strategy for NCD Care" in World Economic Forum.

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Health Studies Events

Contact Us

Mailing address:
Department of Health Studies
Richmond Hall, Suite G21
114 UR Drive
Richmond, VA 23173

Phone: (804) 662-3034

Department Chair:  Dr. Kathryn Jacobsen

Academic Administrative Coordinator: Stephanie Fillman