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Qiana Brown: Five Objects That Matter
June 18, 2018


We are pleased to welcome our newest faculty member, Dr. Qiana L. Brown. Brown is an epidemiologist and licensed (advanced generalist) certified social worker. She is an assistant professor at the School of Social Work, and at the School of Public Health. She is also a faculty affiliate of the Center for Prevention Science at the School of Social Work. Brown’s research uses a person-in-environment approach to examine the role of the social environment in shaping substance use and other behavioral health outcomes among women, youth, and families – with an emphasis on examining substance use among pregnant and non-pregnant reproductive-aged women. Dr. Brown’s peer-reviewed research has been published in top-tier journals, including JAMA. She is also a member of the editorial board of Substance Use and Misuse.

Dr. Brown earned her PhD in drug dependence epidemiology from Johns Hopkins University. She subsequently completed a three-year postdoctoral research fellowship in substance abuse epidemiology at Columbia University. Both her pre- and postdoctoral research fellowships were funded by NIDA T32 training grants in epidemiology and biostatistics. In addition to research, Dr. Brown founded and directs a non-profit, community-based, substance abuse treatment center – Jane’s House of Inspiration – where she focuses on helping women, families, and communities address problems related to substance use disorders.

Poem, “Don’t Quit”: My late mother, Ms. Jane Lee Britton, read this poem to me almost every day when I was a child. The poem is about perseverance. I often reflect on it, and on my mother’s commitment to reading it to me.

Favorite Research Books: My favorite research books are A Dictionary of Epidemiology by Miquel Porta, and Regression Methods in Biostatistics: Linear, Logistic, Survival, and Repeated Measures Models by Eric Vittinghoff and colleagues. I reference these books often and recommend them to my students and advisees who want to learn more about epidemiology and biostatistics. Now that I am writing my first research book, I hope that someday it too might be someone’s favorite book.

Sign, “Free Bread, Talk to a Doc for Free”: This sign is from a non-profit, 501C3, community-based, substance abuse treatment center that I founded in Baltimore, MD – Jane’s House of Inspiration (named after my late mother) – and direct with my husband. When medical residents from the Johns Hopkins Medicine-Pediatrics Urban Health Residency Program would complete their women’s health rotation at our center, we would set up a table outside with free bread (and other free food) along with a sign that said, “Free Bread, Talk to a Doc for Free.” This helped the medical residents establish a rapport with the community and engage community members in health care, to include substance abuse prevention. Community members and medical residents would meet outside at the table, and that’s where conversations about health began. Of course, there was office space inside the building to facilitate patient-provider privacy, but the conversations often started outside around the food.

Broken Windows: This is one of my favorite pictures with my husband. Our center – Jane’s House of Inspiration – received a grant to plant a large community fruit garden, which we named the A-Maze-N Recovery Fruit Garden. Once all the trees were planted, we had a community BBQ at the garden to celebrate. The building with the broken windows is often what people picture when they think of low-income, inner-city neighborhoods. However, that’s not a complete picture. The full picture includes resilient residents who want the best for their community, who care about green spaces, and who are excited about what a community garden means for the health of their families and neighborhood (e.g., free access to fresh fruit in a food desert). You can only see the full picture when you’re on the ground, doing the work.

Favorite Bible Scripture – Proverbs 31:9: This is one of my favorite Bible scriptures: “Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.” It reminds me to speak up against injustice and for people who are marginalized. I speak up through my research by empirically identifying health needs among vulnerable populations, and making these needs known on local and national platforms. 


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