Steven H. Woolf, M.D., M.P.H.


Dear Colleagues-Friends,

Please join me in thanking Steven H. Woolf, M.D., M.P.H., for his tremendous leadership of the VCU Center on Society and Health, which he has directed since its founding in 2007. His vision shaped an academic research center that aims to improve the health of Americans through its study of the health implications of social factors like poverty and education as well as neighborhood and community environmental conditions. The center is known for its life expectancy maps, which show that your zip code may be as important as your genetic code in predicting your health.

Fortunately, we will continue to benefit from Dr. Woolf’s wisdom, as he is not leaving VCU. He will remain at the center to serve as director emeritus and will maintain his role as professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Population Health. Woolf, who first established himself as a health services researcher, has focused his career on raising public awareness about the socioeconomic and environmental inequities that shape health and bringing that message to policymakers. His findings have influenced the health of our nation through his more than 200 articles, his testimony before Congress, editorials in major newspapers, web-based tools and speeches. Woolf is stepping down as director to spend more time on public policy issues, writing and partnerships with colleagues and institutions around the country.

Derek A. Chapman, Ph.D.


I am pleased that Derek A. Chapman, Ph.D., has agreed to take over as the center’s interim director. Since joining the center as Associate Director for Research in December 2013, Chapman has been responsible for operational management of the research team and has ably led its expanding list of quantitative research projects. Since 2004, he has also served as associate professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Population Health in the Division of Epidemiology (formerly the Department of Epidemiology and Community Health).

Anton J. Kuzel, M.D., M.H.P.E., chair of the Department of Family Medicine and Population Health, notes, “The VCU Center on Society and Health is shining a light on the factors that have the greatest impact on health – social determinants. I am pleased that it will continue this critical work under the leadership of Dr. Chapman, and I am enormously grateful to Dr. Woolf for establishing and leading the center for more than a decade.”

Chapman’s scholarly work on maternal and child health epidemiology, and the intersection of biologic and social determinants on children’s health and development, is complemented by his 13 years of experience working in state health departments, where he conducted applied public health research to inform programs and policy.

I deeply appreciate that there is so able a colleague prepared to step up. The wealth of talent at the VCU Center on Society and Health is indeed another example of Woolf’s fine leadership in assembling a team dedicated to moving the needle to improve the health of Americans.

Warm regards,

Peter F. Buckley, M.D.
Dean, VCU School of Medicine
Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, VCU Health System