um_logo Home | Contact | Basecamp Login
Research Center of Excellence on Minority Health Disparities


Stephen B. Thomas, PhD, FAAHB
Department of Health Services Administration
Maryland Center for Health Equity

Maryland Center for Health Equity
School of Public Health
University of Maryland
3302E SPH Building #255
College Park, MD 20742-2611



Faculty Bio - Stephen B. Thomas, PhD

Stephen B. Thomas, PhD, is professor of Health Services Administration in the School of Public Health and Director of the University of Maryland Center for Health Equity at the University of Maryland in College Park. One of the nation's leading scholars in the effort to eliminate racial and ethnic health disparities, Dr. Thomas has applied his expertise to address a variety of conditions from which minorities generally face far poorer outcomes, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and HIV/AIDS. He is principal investigator of the Research Center of Excellence on Minority Health Disparities, funded by the NIH-National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities. He is also principal investigator, with Dr. Sandra Quinn, of the NIH National Bioethics Infrastructure Initiative: Building Trust Between Minorities and Researchers awarded in 2009.

Dr. Thomas has been recognized at the national level for his professional accomplishments, receiving the 2005 David Satcher Award from the Directors of Health Promotion and Education for his leadership in reducing health disparities through the improvement of health promotion and health education programs at the state and local levels and the 2004 Alonzo Smyth Yerby Award from the Harvard School of Public Health for his work with people suffering the health effects of poverty. In 1998, he received the K-01 NIH Mentored Research Science Award in Applied Research Ethics to explore strategies for overcoming the legacy on Tuskegee on willingness of African Americans to participate in medical and public health research. Over the years, his work is recognized as one of the scholarly contributions leading to the 1997 Presidential Apology to Survivors of the Syphilis Study Done at Tuskegee.

Dr. Thomas has served on numerous national committees, including, but not limited to, the NIH State of the Science Committee on Tobacco Cessation, Prevention and Control; the National Research Council committee on Assessing Fitness for Military Enlistment: Physical, Medical and Mental Health Standards; the Institute of Medicine Committee on Reducing the Odds: Preventing Perinatal Transmission of HIV and the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions Agency Wide Research Agenda Collaborative. Dr. Thomas serves on the advisory board for the Mayo Clinic's Cancer Center and Mayo's Center for Translational Science Activities. He is a training site director for the Kellogg Health Scholars Post-Doctoral Program at the Center for the Advancement of Health. His work has been published in leading peer reviewed journals such as the Journal of the American Public Health Association, Social Science and Medicine, Health Promotion Practice and Archives of Internal Medicine.

After completing his undergraduate degree in school health education at The Ohio State University, Dr. Thomas went on to earn his master's degree in health education at Illinois State University and later earned his doctorate in community health education from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. He has held tenured faculty positions at Emory University's Rollins School of Public Health in Atlanta and the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health where he was also the Inaugural Philip Hallen Professor of Community Health and Social Justice. For more information on the University of Maryland Center for Health Equity please visit


My research focuses on the translation of evidence-based science on chronic disease into community-based interventions designed to eliminate racial and ethnic disparities in health and health care. More specifically, my research has focused on understanding how social context shapes attitudes and behaviors of underserved, poorly served, and never-served segments of our society toward participation in health promotion and disease prevention activities. I am particularly focused on how the legacy of the Syphilis Study at Tuskegee (1932–72) has impacted trust and influenced the willingness of African Americans to participate in medical and public health research. As director of the Center for Minority Health, I am principal investigator on EXPORT Health, and the National Institutes of Health-funded Center of Excellence in Partnerships for Community Outreach, Research, and Training to eliminate racial and ethnic health disparities.


I am involved in the training and mentoring of junior faculty interested in minority health. I am developing an overview course on minority health to be part of a certificate program in minority health and health disparity research. Additionally, I am working on the development of a certificate program on public health and the faith community.
Selected Publications (chosen for impact on the field)

  • Thomas, S. B., Quinn, S.C., Butler, J., Fryer, C.S., Garza, M.A. (2011) Toward a Fourth Generation of Disparities Research to Achieve Health Equity.  Annual Review of Public Health 32(1): 399-416.
  • Goodpaster, B. H., J. P. DeLany, Otto, AD, Kuller, L, Vocklery, J, South-Paul, JE, Thomas, SB, Brown, J, McTigue, K, Hames, KC, Lang, W, Jakicic, JM,(2010). Effects of Diet and Physical Activity Interventions on Weight Loss and Cardiometabolic Risk Factors in Severely Obese Adults. JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association, 304(16): 1795-1802
  • Thomas, S., Sansing, V.V., Davis, A., Magee, M., Massaro E., Srinivas, V.S., Helmy,  T., & Brooks, M. (2010).  Racial Differences in Self-Rated Health Status vs. Objective Clinical Measures among Participants in the Bypass Angioplasty Revascularization Investigation 2 Diabetes Trial, (BARI 2D). American Journal of Public Health 100: S269 - S276.
  • Beohar, N., Sansing, V., Srinivas, V.S., Davis, A., Thomas, S., Hemly, T., Lepe, L., Brooks, M. and BARI 2D Study Group (2010).  Long Term Impact of Race/Ethnicity on Death, Myocardial Infraction and Stroke Among Patients Enrolled in the Bypass Angioplasty Revascularization Investigation of Type 2 Diabetes Trial (BARI 2D). Journal of the American College of Cardiology 55(10, Supplement 1): A128.E1195-A1128.E1195.
  • Berget, RJ, Reynolds, CF 3rd, Ricci, EM, Quinn, SC, Mawson, AR, Payton, M, Thomas SB (2010).  A Plan to Facilitate the Early Career Development of Minority Scholars in the Health Sciences.  Social Work Public Health, 25(6): 257-90
  • Rajakumar, K., Thomas, S.B., Musa, D., Almario, D. &  Garza, M., (2009).  Racial Differences in Parents’ Distrust of Medicine and Research.  Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, 163(2): 108-14.
  • Musa, D, Schulz, R., Harris, R., Silverman, M., & Thomas, S., (2009). Trust in the Health Care System and the Use of Preventive Health Services by Older Black and White Adults. American Journal of Public Health, 99(7): 1293-1299.
  • Ford, A., Reddick, K., Browne, M., Robins, A., Thomas, S. & Quinn S., (2009). Beyond the Cathedral: Building Trust to Engage the African American Community in Health Promotion & Disease Prevention.  Health Promotion Practice, 10: 485-489.
  • Rajakumar, K., Thomas, S.B., Musa, D., Almario, D., Garza, M.A., (2009). Racial Differences in Parents' Distrust of Medicine and Research.  Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 163(2): 108-114.
  • Thomas, S. & Quinn, S. (2008).  Poverty and the Elimination of Urban Health Disparities: Challenge and Opportunity.  Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1136: 111-125.
  • Thomas, S., Benjamin, G., Almario, D., & Lathan, M. (2006).  Historical and Current Policy Efforts to Eliminate Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities in the United States: Future Opportunities for Public Health Education Research.  Health Promotion Practice, 7(3): 324-330
  • Fine M, Ibrahim S., & Thomas S, (2005). The Role of Race and Genetics in Health Disparities Research.  American Journal of Public Health, 95(12): 2125-2128.
  • Corbie-Smith, G., Thomas, S., St. George, D., (2002). Distrust, race, and research. Arch Intern Med, 162(21): 2458-2463.
  • Freimuth, V., Quinn, S., Thomas, S., Cole, G., Zook, E. & Duncan, T., (2001). African Americans' Perspectives on Research and the Tuskegee Syphilis Study: Results of a Qualitative Study in Four Cities. Social Science and Medicine, 52, 797-801.
  • Quinn, SC, & Thomas, SB, (2001).  The National Negro Health Week, 1915 to 1951: A Descriptive Account. Minority Health Today 2(3):44-49
  • Corbie-Smith G, Thomas S, Williams M. & Moody-Ayers S., (1999).   Attitudes and beliefs of African Americans toward participation in medical research.  Journal of General Internal Medicine, 14, 537-546.
  • Thomas S. & Curran J.,  (1999). Tuskegee: From Science to Conspiracy to Metaphor.  American Journal of the Medical Sciences, 317, 1-4.
  • Thomas S. & Quinn, S., (1996).  The significance of Race and Ethnicity in Public Health Policy and Practice. Current Issues in Public Health, 2(5), 5-8. 
  • Marin G, Burhansstipanov L, Connell C, Gielen A, Helitzer-Allen D, Lorig K, Morisky D, Tenney M. & Thomas S., (1995). A Research Agenda for Health Education among Under-Served Populations. Health Education Quarterly, 22(3), 346-363.  
  • Quinn S. & Thomas S., (1994).  Results of a Baseline Assessment of AIDS Knowledge among Black Church Members. National Journal of Sociology, 8(1&2), 89-107. 
    Thomas S, Quinn S, Billingsley A, & Caldwell C. (1994). The Characteristics of Northern Black Churches with Community Health Outreach Programs. American Journal of Public Health, 84(4), 575-579. 
    Thomas S. & Quinn S., (1991). The Tuskegee Syphilis Study 1932-1972: Implications for HIV Education and AIDS Risk Reduction Programs in the Black Community.  American Journal of Public Health, 81(11), 1498-1505.