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About Us

HEAL is a network of researchers housed within the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine and the College of Arts and Sciences at Washington State University. Our interdisciplinary work informs decision- and policy-making that addresses disparities in public health and community resources for all underserved people in Washington state and across the U.S.

In other words, we tell the stories in the data to improve the health of the underserved.

We can help you tell your story.

Ofer Amram, MSc, PhD
Spatial epidemiologist at HEAL and Assistant Professor for the WSU Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine

Ofer Amram’s research is in the field of spatial epidemiology, specifically on the use of geographical information systems to support evidence-based decision making in health research. In his work, he relies heavily on cartography and visualization to translate data into knowledge. Focused on the relationships between space, place, and health outcomes, he particularly studies how individual, contextual, and environmental factors impact disease rates and clinical outcomes and how access to health services affects health outcomes and service use. Dr. Amram’s earlier work includes researching social determinants of pediatric injuries and the relationship between access to trauma centers and injury outcomes among children as well as the spatial epidemiology of HIV and STI among marginalized populations.

Dedra Buchwald, MD
Professor and Director of the Institute for Research and Education to Advance Community Health (IREACH) at the WSU Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine

Dr. Buchwald is dedicated to bettering the health of underserved populations including refugees, immigrants, and racial and ethnic minorities. Dr. Buchwald leads Partnerships for Native Health, which is one of the world’s largest research programs on American Indian and Alaska Native health. She also founded and directs the Native Investigator Training Program, which is the nation’s most successful career training program for American Indian and Alaska Native junior faculty. Her work considers health at the levels of the individual, the community, and the health system. She conducts research and interventions that target population health disparities and the social determinants of health, particularly among American Indians and Alaska Natives.

Justin Denney

Justin Denney, PhD
William Julius Wilson Distinguished Professor of Sociology at WSU

Dr. Denney’s role with HEAL is influenced by his broad social science research agenda. His current projects are focused on better understanding: 1) how the social and physical characteristics of the places children and adults live, work, and play impact outcomes such as household food insecurity, child health, and adult mortality; and 2) how family formations and socioeconomic resources matter independently and in combination with place-based characteristics for overall health. His work often involves multi-disciplinary collaborations and has been supported by the Health Disparities Scholar Program at the National Institutes of Health, the University of Kentucky Center for Poverty Research, the Foundation for Child Development, and the Houston Endowment.

Solmaz Amiri, DDes, MArch
Spatial and Statistical Analyst and Postdoctoral Research Associate in the WSU Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine

Solmaz Amiri has extensive knowledge of gathering and processing geospatial data, modeling large datasets, and visualizing data on ArcGIS and other modeling platforms. Dr. Amiri’s dissertation was funded by the National Institute of Justice where she developed a geospatial tool for forecasting commission of residential burglaries. She has been a Principle or Co-Investigator on multiple federal-, foundation-, and university-funded grants where she applies geographic information systems (GIS) and statistical techniques to study individual, social, and spatial factors associated with public health, crime, and transportation. She has developed and taught multiple quantitative research methods and statistics courses to undergraduate and graduate students at Washington State University.

For more information, contact us at or 509-368-6863.