Grantee: Megha Ramaswamy

Megha Ramaswamy

Megha Ramaswamy, Ph.D., M.P.H.

Sociologist and Applied Public Health Researcher
  • University of Kansas School of Medicine

Throughout her career, Dr. Ramaswamy has worked with people on the margins-poor teen moms, HIV-positive methadone patients, and adjudicated adolescents. While working on her Ph.D. in sociology, one of her graduate advisors offered her an opportunity to undertake public health research in jails, which allowed her to continue pursuing a longstanding personal and intellectual interest in the impact that marginalization due to racism, gender, and class discrimination has on health and social well-being.

Dr. Ramaswamy's current research focuses on the social and structural context affecting the health of incarcerated women. Women with criminal justice histories have four to five times the rates of cervical cancer compared with women without these histories. This disparity highlights the complex social determinants of cancer risk and morbidity-such as behavioral risk, prevention, and health care access-affecting the most vulnerable members of society. Because so few researchers work in jails and prisons, the opportunity to address the health needs of about 9 million people entering the criminal justice system each year is often overlooked. Dr. Ramaswamy is continuing a decade's worth of work with people leaving jails and returning to resource-poor communities with her current R01, "Sexual Health Empowerment for Cervical Health Literacy and Cancer Prevention," which allows her to address cervical cancer risk in a group of underserved women with significant additional health needs.

Looking back, it was my early curiosity about inequality (kindled by a childhood in the Deep South and bedtime discussions with my dad about racism and politics) that ultimately motivated me as an adult to tackle the health disparities that affect marginalized women and men.”

Selected Grants

* The Behavioral Research Program is grateful to this investigator for providing a Sample Grant Application as an excellent example of grantsmanship. The Adobe Reader is needed to read PDF files. Download Adobe Reader for free.

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