NIH OBSSR Director's Webinar: The Theoretical and Practical Importance of Advancing Health Equity

September 19, 2023, 2:00pm – 3:00pm EDT
Neil Lewis, Jr., Ph.D., Cornell University

Presenter: Neil A. Lewis, Jr., Ph.D.
Assistant professor of communication and social behavior, Cornell University
Assistant professor of communication research in medicine, Weill Cornell Medicine
Co-Director, Action Research Collaborative, Cornell University


Health equity has become a hot topic over the past few years. The COVID-19 pandemic made salient just how separate and unequal the United States remains in modern life, and the consequences of that inequality for the health and wellbeing of individuals and broader collectives. In response, scientists, policymakers, and the broader public renewed their interest in (or became interested in the first time) what can be done to address these issues and improve health equity in our society. Although broad interest in health equity is relatively new, research on this topic is extensive—social scientists have been studying it for decades. In this talk, I will discuss what we have learned (and what we still need to learn), the implications of that knowledge and how it is generated, and why the pursuit of health equity is important for advancing theories across the sciences, which has practical benefits for broader society.



Neil Lewis, Jr. is a behavioral and intervention scientist at Cornell University and Weill Cornell Medicine, where he is an associate professor in the department of communication, division of general internal medicine, and graduate field of psychology. He also co-directs Cornell's Action Research Collaborative, which brings together researchers, practitioners, community members, and policymakers to address pressing issues in society.

Lewis's research examines how people's social contexts and identities influence:

  1. how they interpret and make meaning of the world around them,
  2. their motivation to pursue their goals and success in goal pursuit efforts, and
  3. the implications of these processes for interventions and policies to promote equity in social outcomes.

He has received the Early Career Scholar Award from the International Communication Association (2023), the Janet Taylor Spence Award for Transformative Early Career Contributions from the Association for Psychological Science (2022), the Cornell Research and Extension Award for Outstanding Accomplishments in Science and Public Policy (2021), and the SAGE Young Scholar Early Career Award from the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (2020).