Welcome from the Chair


Dr Jonathan Oberlander, PhD
Professor and Chair

Welcome to our Social Medicine Department website, a resource that we hope will prove useful for those seeking information about our Department and the field of Social Medicine.
What are the goals of Social Medicine?
The Department of Social Medicine is committed to the promotion and provision of multi-disciplinary education, leadership, service, research, and scholarship at the intersection of medicine and society, including: the social conditions and characteristics of patients and populations; causes of illness and contexts of medical care; the ethical and social contexts of biomedical clinical and research professionals and institutions; and questions of allocation, organization and financing of health resources including health law and policy.
In Social Medicine, 27 Primary and Jointly Appointed and 16 Secondary faculty from clinical medicine, public health, the social sciences, and the humanities collaborate to teach core curriculum to medical students, develop innovative research projects, and connect the School of Medicine with the wider University campus. Through our teaching, research, and service we address social dimensions of health and health care in North Carolina and around the globe.
Who is our audience?
We teach core curriculum courses for 1st and 2nd year medical school students, seminars and lectures for 3rd and 4th year students, residents, fellows, hospital staff, and faculty. Our Social Medicine Reader, an interdisciplinary textbook with material on bioethics, social and cultural factors in health and illness and the organization of medical care, is now in its second edition and used in curriculums throughout the United States. We also administer the Preventive Medicine Residency Program at UNC. Nationally and globally we are one of a small number of Social Medicine departments and recognized for leadership in articulating and implementing Social Medicine’s teaching, research, and service missions. In addition to active research programs addressing Social Medicine issues and topics of significance for residents of North Carolina and the broader U.S., our faculty members are engaged in international research and in teaching and service programs in Africa, Latin America, and Europe as well as current NIH-funded grants in China, Cambodia, and Thailand.
How does Social Medicine relate to other UNC Departments, Centers, and Schools?
Our faculty members’ joint appointments in the Schools of Medicine, Public Health, and Law, and in the College of Arts and Sciences help us to build networks of significance for our mission across the UNC campus. Members of our faculty also teach in these other schools and in the college as well as being members of research working groups across campus. Our faculty members also have leadership roles in multiple UNC centers, including the Translational and Clinical Sciences Institute; the Center for Genomics and Society; and the Center for AIDS Research, among others. In 2010, Eric Juengst was recruited to lead the School of Medicine’s new Center for Bioethics. Dr. Juengst also joined our Department at the same time. All members of the Core Faculty in the Center are also faculty in the Department of Social Medicine and the two units share a contiguous space on the third floor of MacNider Hall.
With best regards,
Jonathan Oberlander, PhD

Professor and Chair