Alison Brown, Ph.D., NG17

  • Fellow - Boston Public Health Commission’s Office of Racial Equity and Health Improvement

Alison Brown’s research interests focus on public health nutrition and the development of culturally appropriate nutrition interventions.  Under the advisement and mentorship of Dr. Sara Folta, Brown served as a research coordinator for an intervention designed to address cardiovascular disease (CVD) among African American women and is currently conducting her dissertation research to explore how the diversity among Blacks relates to dietary quality and CVD risk.  Other areas of interest include wellness programming, health equity, and addressing health disparities in minority communities through community-based participatory research and civic engagement.

Academic, volunteer, and professional experiences include: community nutrition engagement and education, empowerment in underserved communities, hunger relief efforts, national nutrition advocacy, and professional development initiatives for young adults of color.  Civic engagement activities include her involvement as an Albert Schweitzer Fellow (2013-14) and previous leadership positions within the Boston Branch NAACP.  Brown received Tufts University’s Presidential Award for Citizenship and Public Service and in 2015, was honored with the Gershoff –Simonian Prize for Research Excellence in Nutrition Science and Policy.  She is also a Diversity Leader in the Academy of Dietetics and Nutrition (AND) and while completing her doctoral studies, served as a fellow in the Boston Public Health Commission’s Office of Health Equity and Health Improvement. Brown obtained her Master of Science degree in Applied Physiology and Nutrition from Columbia University and her undergraduate degree from Spelman College. 


  • Ph.D., Food Policy and Applied Nutrition, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Tufts University
  • M.S., Applied Physiology and Nutrition, Columbia University
  • B.S., Chemistry, Spelman College

Research Activities

Ethnic Heterogeneity Among Blacks, Diet Quality, and Hypertension Risk: A Mixed Methods Approach (PI)

The purpose of this dissertation research is to explore how the ethnic heterogeneity among Blacks relates to dietary quality and CVD risk.  Specifically, while it is evident that morbidity and mortality from CVD, cerebrovascular disease, and hypertension among Blacks is the highest among all racial/ethnic groups in the U.S., a major limitation of the epidemiological evidence is the lack of consideration of the ethnic heterogeneity within this group. This study will address major gaps in the literature through both quantitative and qualitative methods and deliver findings that help address the racial/ethnic health disparities in CVD and other related chronic diseases in the U.S.  Funder: National Heart Lung Blood Institute (NHLBI)

Preliminary Investigation of Civic Engagement as a Novel Approach to Behavior Change and Body Weight Improvement in African American Females (Change Clubs for African American Women Study) (Research Coordinator)

Recognizing the disparity in CVD between African American/Black women and their white counterparts, Dr. Sara Folta designed a pilot study to test the feasibility of civic engagement as a novel approach to behavior change to address this disparity.  The intervention linked the individual and community levels in a way that is mutually reinforcing and placing the focus, as is culturally appropriate for African American women, on collective health. Funder: Boston Nutrition Obesity Research Center (BNORC)

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