About Robert (Bob):
· Core Leader, Institutional Development
· M.D., Ph.D. (Epidemiology)
· Professor and Chair, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, UCSF
Having grown up during the civil rights movement, Bob is keenly aware of the structural forms of violence and injustice that result in devastating personal and community health. As such, he is committed to creating institutional change. His passion for "doing the right thing" and working hard make him a compassionate and committed leader in SF BUILD.
Bob spent much of his youth outdoors. He grew up in Boston and Ipswich, Massachusetts and in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He gained an appreciation for understanding the world and its vast and interesting cultural differences through his travels and work abroad including time in Mexico, several countries in East Africa including Ethiopia, many countries in Europe, and Puerto Rico. He learned passible Spanish while working at San Francisco General Hospital in the city’s Mission District.
Like many of us, one of Bob's most challenging experiences in college was figuring out what he wanted to do as a career. As a child he thought he'd be an engineer because he liked math and science and learning how things worked. His father, who was his role model, had grown up on a farm in Indiana with 10 brothers and sisters to become an engineer. From him he learned to value family, hard work and a love of learning. His mother also grew up on a farm in Indiana with 12 siblings and became a high school biology teacher. Although Bob was unsure of which path to take, he eventually switched from engineering, math and physics to zoology. By his junior year, he was certain he wanted to go into medicine and was drawn to study the social aspects of health and disease. After his medical training at the University of Michigan, he moved to San Francisco as an intern and resident in internal medicine. After a number of years working in tropical medicine in other countries he was clear that he wanted to be a research scientist and eventually got his PhD in epidemiology from UC Berkeley. Going to school during the civil rights movement had a profound impact on him and his commitment to social justice. He knew he wanted to contribute to social justice efforts, and was thus drawn to examining social determinants of health and health inequities.
Bob's current research focuses on the social determinants of cancer and understanding the causes of disease as a complex system that includes a mix of social, behavioral, physical environmental and biologic factors, including the way people relate to each other and their social and physical environments. He has done extensive work on breast cancer and the early life environment. Bob not only brings his expertise and commitment to social justice to SF BUILD, he "loves the idea that this partnership can create opportunities for scientific and career growth not possible before." Specifically, he is excited to be part of training a new generation of researchers who will apply their scientific training to "do the right thing" when it comes to improving population health and diminishing social inequality.
When he is not at his desk, you might find him sitting down to a good meal, reading an interesting book, taking a walk, or enjoying meaningful conversation by a warm winter fire.
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