Shawnita Sealy-Jefferson, PhD, MPH

Associate Professor

Shawnita Sealy-Jefferson, PhD, MPH

In public health we have a moral imperative to fight for social justice. I find and help underdogs, and I say what needs to be said. I bring my whole self to everything that I do, because I think that matters. 


1841 Neil Ave.
344 Cunz Hall
Columbus, OH 43210




Dr. Sealy-Jefferson is a social epidemiologist whose primary research seeks action to combat manifestations of structural racism that limit the human rights of Black families and communities. Dr. Sealy-Jefferson is the Founder, Director, and Principal Investigator of the Social Epidemiology to Eliminate Disparities (SEED) Lab. The mission of the SEED Lab is to conduct high quality epidemiologic research to find solutions to the disproportionate burden of infant mortality among Black women. Specifically, Dr. Sealy-Jefferson’s scholar-activism draws from the Reproductive Justice Framework and seeks to: (1) empirically document associations between systems of oppression and preterm birth (which is the leading cause of infant death), (2) explicate the intervening biologic, social, and psychosocial mechanisms, as well as (3) identify effect modifiers of these associations among Black women. The goal of her scholarship is to inform future intervention studies, policy change, and social activism.

To this end, Dr. Sealy-Jefferson is the Principal Investigator of the Social Epidemiology to Combat Unjust Residential Evictions (SECURE) Study, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. In partnership with a Community Advisory Board of Black women leaders, the SECURE study will document, for the first time, the magnitude and severity of court-ordered and illegal residential evictions, as well as their impact on the health of Black families in Metro-Detroit, MI. This mixed-methodology multi-level study will prioritize community power and agency, and center the voices, experiences, and ways of knowing of Black women. The SECURE study is unapologetically, *FOR US, BY US* and our work is grounded in HOUSING IS A HUMAN RIGHT and BLACK LIVES MATTER.

Reproductive Justice, social epidemiology, adverse birth and maternal outcomes, Black/African American families and communities

Postdoctoral Fellowship, Wayne State University
PhD, Epidemiological Sciences, University of Michigan, School of Public Health
MPH, Public Health Practice, Wayne State University
BS, Clinical Laboratory Science, Wayne State University

  1. Sealy-Jefferson, S., Roseland, M., Cote, M., Lehman, A., Whitsel, E.A., Booza, J., Simon, M., Rural-Urban Residence and Stroke Risk and Severity in Postmenopausal Women: Women’s Health Initiative. (in-press) Women’s Health Reports.
  2. Sealy-Jefferson, S., B. Butler*, T. Price-Spratlen, R. K. Dailey and D. P. Misra (2020). "Neighborhood-Level Mass Incarceration and Future Preterm Birth Risk among African American Women." J Urban Health 97(2): 271-278.
  3. Sealy-Jefferson, S. and D. P. Misra (2019). "Neighborhood Tax Foreclosures, Educational Attainment, and Preterm Birth among Urban African American Women." Int J Environ Res Public Health 16(6): 904.
  4. Sealy-Jefferson, S., F. N. Mustafaa and D. P. Misra (2019). "Early-life neighborhood context, perceived stress, and preterm birth in African American Women." SSM Popul Health 7: 100362.
  5. Sealy-Jefferson, S., M. E. Roseland, M. L. Cote, A. Lehman, E. A. Whitsel, F. N. Mustafaa, J. Booza and M. S. Simon (2019). "Rural-Urban Residence and Stage at Breast Cancer Diagnosis Among Postmenopausal Women: The Women's Health Initiative." J Womens Health (Larchmt) 28(2): 276-283.
  6. Sealy-Jefferson, S., M. L. Cote, R. T. Chlebowski, K. M. Rexrode and M. S. Simon (2018). "Post-Stroke Cancer Risk among Postmenopausal Women: The Women's Health Initiative." Womens Health Issues 28(1): 29-34.
  7. Sealy-Jefferson, S., L. Messer, J. Slaughter-Acey and D. P. Misra (2017). "Inter-relationships between objective and subjective measures of the residential environment among urban African American women." Ann Epidemiol 27(3): 164-168.
  8. Sealy-Jefferson, S., J. Slaughter-Acey, C. H. Caldwell, J. Kwarteng and D. P. Misra (2016). "Neighborhood Disadvantage and Preterm Delivery in Urban African Americans: The Moderating Role of Religious Coping." SSM Popul Health 2: 656-661.
  9. Sealy-Jefferson, S., C. Giurgescu, J. Slaughter-Acey, C. Caldwell and D. Misra (2016). "Neighborhood Context and Preterm Delivery among African American Women: the Mediating Role of Psychosocial Factors." J Urban Health 93(6): 984-996.