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Sarah Gehlert

Ernest P. Larson Professor of Health, Ethnicity and Poverty

Media Contact
Sarah Gehlert
Phone:  213.740.8311
Rank:  Tenure Track Faculty
Department:  Not Assigned

Sarah Gehlert

Ernest P. Larson Professor of Health, Ethnicity and Poverty

Media Contact


Sarah Gehlert comes to USC after having served as dean of the College of Social Work at the University of South Carolina and University of South Carolina Educational Foundation Distinguished Professor. Prior to her move to the University of South Carolina, Professor Gehlert served as the E. Desmond Lee Endowed Professor of Racial and Ethnic Diversity at Washington University in St. Louis (WUSTL), where she was the co-program leader of the Prevention and Control Program of the Siteman Cancer Center, associate director of the Transdisciplinary Center on Energetics and Cancer (TREC), training program director of the Program for the Elimination of Cancer Disparities (PECaD), and co-chair of the Center for Community Engaged Research at the WUSTL Institute for Clinical and Translational Sciences (a CTSA).
Prior to joining the Brown School at WUSTL, Professor Gehlert was the Helen Ross Professor at the School of Social Service Administration (SSA) and held joint appointments at Institute for Mind and Biology and the Department of Comparative Human Development at the University of Chicago. She served as SSA’s deputy dean for research and was associate director of the University of Chicago’s Institute for Translational Medicine (a CTSA).
Professor Gehlert’s publications focus on social environmental influences on health, especially the health of vulnerable populations. She studies neighborhood and community factors as they effect psychosocial functioning, gene expression and tumorigenesis in breast cancer. Professor Gehlert was a member of the Board of Scientific Counselors of the National Human Genome Research Institute from 2010-2016. She currently is a member of the Council for Extramural Grants at the American Cancer Society and the Steering Committee of the California Breast Cancer Research Program.
Professor Gehlert is the past-president and fellow of the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare, and served as president of the Society for Social Work and Research. She has served on the editorial boards of several journals within the profession. She is a fellow in The Academy for Transdisciplinary Learning and Advanced Science. She was named the Public Health Social Worker of the Year in 2018 by the American Public Health Association.



Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri

PhD 1991

University of Missouri - Columbia

MSW 1982

University of Missouri - Columbia

MA 1979

Southern Illinois University

BA 1971

Area of Expertise

  • Health Disparities
  • Women's Health and Mental Health
  • Community-based Participatory Research
  • Adaptation to Illness and Traumatic Injury
  • Transdisciplinary Research and Team Science
  • Gene and Environment Interactions


  • Past-President and Fellow, American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare
  • Steering Committee, Grand Challenges for Social Work
  • Member, Social Work Leadership Roundtable
  • Member, Council for Extramural Grants, American Cancer Society, Atlanta
  • Fellow, Society for Social Work & Research