Sandra D. Lane

Ph.D., MPH
Laura J. & L. Douglas Meredith Professor of Public Health & Anthropology
Research Professor Obstetrics & Gynecology Upstate Medical University

Sandra D. Lane, Ph.D., MPH, Laura J. and L. Douglas Meredith Professor of teaching excellence, is a professor of public health and anthropology at Syracuse University and a research professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Upstate Medical University. She received her Ph.D. in medical anthropology from the joint program at the University of California at San Francisco and Berkeley, and an MPH in epidemiology from the University of California at Berkeley.

Her research focuses on the effects of racial, ethnic and gender disadvantage on maternal, child, and family health in urban areas of the United States and the Middle East. Lane has published 54 peer reviewed journal articles; 25 book chapters; a 2008 book, Why Are Our Babies Dying? Pregnancy, Birth and Death in America; and a policy monograph, The Public Health Impact of Needle Exchange Programs in the United States and Abroad; and is an editor of a forthcoming (2021) volume Handbook of Social Studies in Health and Medicine, Second Edition (Sage Press).

Her work has been funded by 10 federal grants (NIMH, CDC, EPA, HRSA, and Office of Minority Health), as well as by foundation, state, and internal grants. In 1996, she received both the Carl F. Wittke Award for Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching and the John S. Diekhoff Award for Distinguished Graduate Teaching (Case Western Reserve University).

She has received multiple other awards including the 2011 Laura J. and L. Douglas Meredith award for teaching excellence, the 2015 Henrik L. Blum Award for Excellence in Health Policy, from the American Public Health Association section on Community Health Planning and Policy Development, and the 2019 the George Foster Award for Practicing Medical Anthropology (Society for Medical Anthropology).

Lane has been a consultant to the World Health Organization for operational research on tuberculosis, UNFPA and UNICEF for Rapid Assessment Procedures, and the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) for qualitative methods in hospital evaluation. From 1988-1992, she was the Child Survival, Reproductive Health and Population Program Officer, in the Ford Foundation’s Cairo, Egypt field office, with grant-making responsibility for Egypt, Sudan, Jordan, Lebanon, Yemen, and the West Bank and Gaza.

Prior to joining Syracuse University, Lane was the founding director of Syracuse Healthy Start, an infant mortality prevention program, in Syracuse, New York. With Dr. Richard Aubry she developed an intervention for screening and treating pregnant women for bacterial vaginosis that was associated with a 50% reduction in premature births in Syracuse (“Evaluation of Syracuse Healthy Start’s program for abnormal flora screening, treatment, and rescreening among pregnant women, Syracuse, New York, 2000-2002,” (2011) Maternal and Child Health Journal, 15(7):1020-8.) She led a community-wide health literacy initiative that resulted in a 75% reduction of post neonatal deaths among women who had not graduated from high school. (“Parental Literacy and Infant Health: An Evidence-Based Healthy Start Intervention,” (2006) Health Promotion Practice, 7(1):95-102.) She secured grant funding to support the development of the Onondaga County Child Fatality Review Team and served as a member from 1997-2004.

Lane co-developed with Robert A. Rubinstein a model that links the community-participatory analysis of public policy with pedagogy, called CARE (Community Action Research and Education). Her CARE projects include food deserts in Syracuse, lead poisoning in rental property, health of the uninsured, and her current project on neighborhood trauma and gun violence. Her CARE publications since joining the Syracuse University faculty have included community members, graduate students and undergrads as co-authors.


Ph.D. Medical Anthropology, University of California, San Francisco and Berkeley

MPH Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley

M.A. Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley

B.A. North African Studies, University of California, Berkeley


Medical anthropology and public health

Research Projects

Refugee health:

Lane has worked on the issues of refugee health in collaboration with Dr. Andrea Shaw and other clinical colleagues at Upstate Medical University for several years. This work has resulted in an experiential, interprofessional course in which students are matched with refugee families. The course was not offered in 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic. currently the project focuses on refugee births, in partnership with Upstate Medical University and Catholic Charities of Syracuse.

Maternal mental health

A study with Dr. Seetha Ramanathan, a psychiatrist on the faculty of Upstate Medical University and other faculty and students, helping to develop interventions focusing on the mental health of women and families during pregnancy, birth, and post-partum.

Lead poisoning prevention

Lane and numerous stakeholders (Syracuse Counselor Joe Driscoll, Families for Lead Freedom Now!, the Legal Aid Society of Onondaga County, the Community Foundation of CNY, and faculty from Upstate, Syracuse University) are assisting the city and county officials to enact a new ordinance aimed at reducing lead poisoning in Syracuse-area children in rental property. They have formed a group of local faculty, Robert A Rubinstein (Syracuse University), Jesse Harasta, Jessica Essary (Cazenovia College), Jeanette Zoeckler, Travis Hobart (Upstate Medical University), and students to monitor and report to the public progress toward enacting the new lead ordinance (e.g., housing code violations, assessment of children tested for lead and with elevated blood lead, etc.).

Violence and trauma in Syracuse

Since 2010, with Syracuse University Colleagues and students, Lane and Robert A. Rubinstein have worked with community members (Timothy “Noble” Jennings-Bey, Najah Salaam, EdD) and students on the issue of neighborhood violence and trauma in Syracuse. In 2015, we assisted our community colleagues to legally register their own 501c3 non-profit agency, The Street Addiction Institute Inc. (SAII) and to secure several grants for their work. They now have a continuing grant from the Onondaga County probation department, to enroll youth (age 13 to 19), who have had one criminal justice offense, to prevent recidivism, reduce behavioral risks, and promote academic performance.

Recent Publications

  • Larsen, D., Kmush, B., Asiago-Reddy, E., Dinero, R. E., Church, R. L., Khan, S., ... & Narine, L. (2020). An analysis of policy decisions to combat SARS-CoV-2 transmission: comparing the available evidence and policies of public face masking to social distancing (No. gnk5a). Center for Open Science.
  • Zhang, W., Rodziewicz, G., Voss, M., & Lane, S. (Accepted/In press). Historical Trauma and Epigenetics. In S. Scrimshaw, S. Lane, R. Rubinstein, & J. Fisher (Eds.), The SAGE Handbook of Social Studies in Health and Medicine (Second ed.). SAGE Publications Ltd.
  • Larsen, D., Dinero, R., Asiago-Reddy, E., Green, H., Lane, S., Shaw, A., ... & Kmush, B. (2020). A review of infectious disease surveillance to inform public health action against the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.
  • Lupone, C. D., Daniels, D., Lammert, D., Borsuk, R., Hobart, T., Lane, S., & Shaw, A. (2020). Lead exposure in newly resettled pediatric refugees in Syracuse, NY. Journal of immigrant and minority health, 22(1), 34-43.
  • Hwang, W., Jung, E., Shaw, A. V., Mestad, R., & Lane, S. D. (2020). Paid Leave and Maternal Depressive Symptoms After Childbirth: The Moderating Role of Perceived Fairness of the Division of Household Labor. Families in Society, 1044389420913124.
  • Walia, B., Kmush, B., Lane, S. D., Endy, T., Montresor, A., & Larsen, D. A. (2020). Routine deworming during antenatal care decreases risk of neonatal mortality and low birthweight: a retrospective cohort of survey data. medRxiv.
  • Rubinstein, R. A., Lane, S. D., & Sanchez, S. N. (2019). Accessing the Intimacies of Community Life: A Reply to Neofotistos. Current Anthropology, 60(6), 838-839.
  • Lane, S. D., Rubinstein, R. A., Schimpff, T. R., Keefe, R. H., Jennings-Bey, T., Leed, S. R., ... & Satterly, L. B. (2019). Bringing in the community: A university-community endeavor to teach marital and family therapy students about community-based violence and trauma. Contemporary family therapy, 41(2), 147-156.
  • Keefe, R. H., Rouland, R. S., Lane, S. D., Brownstein-Evans, C., Larrison, C. R., & Delmerico, A. M. (2019). The Normative Nature of Depression Among Impoverished Mothers of Color:“... going around this big old circle... it always remain the same”. Families in Society, 100(2), 188-199.
  • Owora, A. H., Salaam, N., Leed, S. H. R., Bergen-Cico, D., Jennings-Bey, T., El, A. H., ... & Lane, S. D. (2018). Culturally congruent mentorship can reduce disruptive behavior among elementary school students: results from a pilot study. Pilot and feasibility studies, 4(1), 1-8.