The Department of Social Medicine is an academic unit within the School of Medicine at UNC-Chapel Hill committed to the promotion and provision of multidisciplinary education, leadership, service, research, and scholarship at the intersection of medicine and society. This includes focus on 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.

Faculty from clinical medicine, public health, the social sciences, and the humanities collaborate to teach core curriculum to medical students, develop innovative research and scholarly endeavors, 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.

Three affiliated interdisciplinary research centers deepen and expand the Department’s focus in bioethics, health disparities, and ethical, legal, and social implications of genomics: The Center for Bioethics, the Center for Health Equity Research, and the Center for Genomics and Society. Social Medicine is a bridge between medicine and public health, public policy, law, the arts and humanities, social sciences disciplines, and communities across the state.

Chair’s Welcome


  • Sullivan, Lyerly publish article in PLOS ONE

    Kristen A. Sullivan, PhD, is first author and Anne Drapkin Lyerly, MD, is corresponding author of an article that examines women’s views about contraception requirements for biomedical research participation. Both are in the Department of Social Medicine and the UNC Center for Bioethics. Kristen A. Sullivan, PhD, is first author and Anne Drapkin Lyerly, MD, is … Continued

  • Sitting in Limbo — Obamacare under Divided Government – Jonathan Oberlander, PhD (NEJM)

    Nearly a decade after its enactment, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) remains in limbo. The Trump administration’s recent decision to ask a federal appellate court to uphold a district court ruling that invalidated the entire ACA underscores the ongoing conflict over health care reform. Yet the ensuing controversy over the administration’s action illustrates the formidable barriers to overturning Obamacare. What are the origins of the latest legal … Continued

  • Oberlander to serve on Medicare eligibility study panel

    Jonathan Oberlander, PhD, professor and chair of social medicine, will serve on a new study panel formed by the National Academy of Social Insurance to examine potential changes to Medicare eligibility. Jonathan Oberlander, PhD, professor and chair of social medicine, will serve on a new study panel formed by the National Academy of Social Insurance to examine … Continued

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