Social Determinants of Health and Health Disparities

Winter 2024 (1 or 2 units) 

Clinical and translational research requires consideration of the diverse influences and contexts affecting and constraining people’s behaviors and health-related outcomes. To conduct high-quality research in diverse populations, researchers should grasp concepts such as race/ethnicity, structural and interpersonal racism, and socioeconomic status, including how these factors affect the development of research questions, data collection and analysis, and dissemination of research findings. Understanding these concepts and proactively incorporating a socioecological perspective into clinical and translational research is essential for both those doing research focused on health equity and for any researcher working with and interested in how their work will impact diverse populations. This course provides a conceptual and practical overview of these topics, with a focus on the needs of researchers working within the United States.

Through taking the 5-week, 1-unit course, researchers will learn about the socioecological model of health and how to incorporate this framework into their research, thereby deepening their ability to perform high-quality research with relevance to diverse populations. Researchers enrolled in the 10-week, 2-unit course will cover more advanced material related to the conduct of health disparities research for those specifically interested in understanding the causes of and solutions to inequalities in health by race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status.


At the end of the 1-unit course, scholars will be able to:

  • Identify the meaning and measurement of race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status and other core concepts.
  • Comprehend a multi-level and longitudinal framework for influences on health in diverse populations.
  • Describe the essential role of community engagement when conducting research with diverse populations.

In addition, scholars enrolled in the 2-unit course will be able to:

  • Employ a rigorous approach to measurement in research in diverse populations
  • Apply analytic methods to the study of health disparities.
  • Comprehend the application and relevance of different study designs to health disparities research.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of how to do strategic science into health disparities research.
  • Identify leading debates and areas of uncertainty, as well as priority areas of research, in health disparities research.

View the Course Introduction video for a further description of course objectives and logistics


Designing Clinical Research (EPI 202). Exceptions to this prerequisite may be made with the consent of the Course Director, space permitting.


Course Director:

Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, MD, PhD, MAS

Professor, Epidemiology & Biostatistics
email: [email protected]

Course Director:

Christine Dehlendorf, MD, MAS

Professor, Family Community Medicine
email: [email protected]

Course Director:

Safyer Mckenzie-Sampson, MSc 

Graduate Student ResearcherEpidemiology & Biostatistics
email: [email protected]


Course content will be delivered through weekly interactive lectures. These will take place on Tuesdays from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM, Jan. 9 to Feb. 6 for the 1-unit course and Jan. 9 to Mar. 19 for the 2-unit course. An optional online discussion section will be held on Monday, 3:00 PM to 4:00 PM.

The daily schedule of activities will be posted on the course's online syllabus.


All materials will be available on the course's online syllabus.


Grades will be based on homework assignments.

Students not in full-year TICR Programs who satisfactorily pass all course requirements will receive, upon request, a Certificate of Course Completion.

Only UCSF students (defined as individuals enrolled in UCSF degree or certificate programs) will receive academic credit for courses. Official transcripts are available to UCSF students only. A Certificate of Course Completion will be available upon request to individuals who are not UCSF students and satisfactorily pass all course requirements.

UCSF Graduate Division Policy on Disabilities

To Enroll

ATCR and MAS students use the Student Portal

Students taking individual courses:

Course Fees
How to pay (please read before applying)
Only one application needs to be completed for all courses desired during the quarter.

Winter 2024 Course Schedule

Apply for Winter courses by January 2, 2024.