Einstein-Mount Sinai Diabetes Research Center

Social–Environmental Research Methodology Sub-Core

Leader: Elizabeth A. Walker, PhD, RN, CDE 

Co-leader: Bruce Rapkin, PhD 

The Einstein Social-Environmental Research Methodology (SERM) Sub-core increases community and social capital development and engages the community in diabetes-related research to reduce health disparities.


The SERM sub-core provides expert resources for the following:

  • Assessing and building community capacity and social capital 
  • Leveraging community structures to enhance health, e.g., library systems, departments of health, union benefit funds, places of worship, recreational facilities, etc. 
  • Facilitating methods to assess community collaboration in diabetes-related research 
  • Developing the research environment to perform community-based participatory research (CBPR) 
  • Enhancing resources to facilitate health disparities research 
  • Enhancing public health initiatives related to disparities through training, coursework, and pilot projects, e.g., community health worker curricula, community gardens 
  • Promoting research in quality improvement for the delivery of health services to reduce disparities 
  • Coordinating global diabetes-related health initiatives, specifically in India and Uganda.  

SERM Faculty Leaders

The SERM’s multidisciplinary faculty is an exciting combination of new and long-term Einstein community investigators.  

  • Elizabeth A. Walker, PhD, RN, CDE, Professor of Medicine, is the P&C Core Director and leader of the SERM.  
  • Bruce Rapkin, PhD, chief for the newly developed Community Collaboration and Implementation Science Division in the Department of Epidemiology and Population Health, is the SERM co-leader. 
  • Hal Strelnick, MD, Professor of Family and Social Medicine, is Director of the Einstein Institute of Community & Collaborative Health and the Einstein-Montefiore CTSA Community Engagement initiatives.  
  • Joel Zonszein, MD, FACE, CDE, Professor of Clinical Medicine, is an endocrinologist and diabetes researcher who is widely regarded for his commitment to the health of the Latino community and to the cultural competence of the providers who serve this community.   

SERM Resource Faculty Members

  • Sonia Suchday, PhD, a health psychologist and behavioral scientist, is program director of the Health Psychology Emphasis at the Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology and co-director of the new Institute for Public Health Sciences located on the Einstein campus.  Dr. Suchday provides crucial linkages among these entities and the DRC, while spearheading a major global health initiative in diabetes and cardiovascular disease in India.  
  • Elisa Weiss, PhD, a medical sociologist, is known nationally for her work on the evaluation of community-academic partnerships for public health. Dr. Weiss’ system for partnership assessment system has been adopted for national evaluations of programs, including Robert Wood Johnson National Diabetes Initiative.  
  • David Lounsbury, PhD, Assistant Professor of Epidemiology and Population Health, has expertise in system dynamics modeling in relation to intervention development.


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