Newswise — Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has appointed Michele Decker, ScD, MPH, as a Bloomberg Associate Professor of American Health in the Department of Population, Family and Reproductive Health. The Bloomberg Professors of American Health scholars are endowed positions supported by the Bloomberg American Health Initiative at the Bloomberg School. 

A social epidemiologist and behavioral scientist by training, Decker brings longstanding expertise in gender-based violence and its epidemiology, social determinants, impact, and prevention and response. In the current #MeToo era of renewed attention to sexual violence and coercion, intimate partner violence, and other aspects of gender inequity, Decker’s research lens is particularly relevant.

“Gender-based violence knows no boundaries; it is a pervasive issue that impacts the entire country,” says Dean Ellen J. MacKenzie, PhD, ScM. “Dr. Decker’s sustained commitment to engaging with community partners around this issue is truly inspiring.” 

Decker has led mixed-methods and implementation research with support from the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Justice, IDEAS42, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health, and in collaboration with community practitioner partners and state and local health departments. Her past experience as an advocate for victims of sexual violence provides insight into the immediate and longer-term safety and support needs of survivors. Decker’s work includes development and evaluation of clinic- and community-based interventions to mitigate the health and social impacts of violence, as well as primary research to understand the mechanisms by which violence influences health. She blends large-scale quantitative investigations with qualitative methods.

“The Bloomberg American Health Initiative is thrilled to work with Dr. Decker to prevent and mitigate intimate partner violence,” says Joshua M. Sharfstein, MD, director of the Bloomberg American Health Initiative.

Decker, an associate professor in the Bloomberg School’s Department of Population, Family and Reproductive Health, has a joint appointment in the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing. Decker co-leads the Gender Equity and Justice thematic area of the Alliance for a Healthier World, a Johns Hopkins University initiative that addresses complex and systemic health inequities. She directs the Women's Health and Rights Program of the Johns Hopkins Center for Public Health and Human Rights; co-chairs the Johns Hopkins University Sexual Violence Advisory Committee to the Provost; and serves on the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine’s Action Collaborative on Preventing Sexual Harassment in Higher Education. Decker earned her ScD from the Harvard School of Public Health in 2008 and her MPH from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2002. 

“Dr. Decker demonstrates leadership and passion in addressing gender-based violence, including its antecedents and consequences,” says Cynthia Minkovitz, MD, MPP, William H. Gates, Sr. Professor and Chair in Population, Family and Reproductive Health at the Bloomberg School. “Her work has heightened attention among diverse stakeholders on these complex challenges, both domestically and globally.”   

The Bloomberg American Health Initiative will support 25 endowed positions over the next five years, deepening the Bloomberg School's expertise and impact in the Initiative’s five areas of focus: obesity and the food system, environmental challenges, addiction, violence, and adolescent health.