Stephen B. Thomas, PhD, is Professor of Health Services Administration in the School of Public Health and Director of the Maryland Center for Health Equity at the University of Maryland in College Park. Dr. Thomas is one of the nation's leading scholars on community-based interventions to eliminate racial and ethnic health disparities including obesity, diabetes, hypertension, HIV AIDS and violence. He is Principal Investigator of the Center of Excellence on Race, Ethnicity and Disparities Research funded by the NIH-National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD), which includes teams of scientists conducting targeted research on obesity, vaccine acceptance and men’s health. Thomas is also Principal Investigator (with Dr. Quinn) on the NIH-NIMHD National Bioethics Research Infrastructure Initiative “Building Trust Between Minorities and Researchers” focused on “plain language” delivery of scientifically sound and culturally relevant research with racial and ethnic minority populations. Dr’s Thomas and Quinn’s scholarship on distrust, race and research is recognized as contributing to the 1997 Presidential Apology for the Syphilis Study Done at Tuskegee. This work facilitated health disparity investigators develop culturally tailored community-based interventions and participant recruitment and retention strategies to successfully engage African Americans and other minority populations in research.
Dr. Thomas served as the Inaugural Philip Hallen Professor of Community Health and Social Justice at the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public Health (2000-2010). He was awarded the 2005 David Satcher Award from the Directors of Health Promotion and Education for his leadership in reducing health disparities through health literacy and the improvement of health promotion and disease prevention programs adults age 50 and over. In 2004, he received the Alonzo Smyth Yerby Award from the Harvard School of Public Health for his work with people suffering poor health literacy and the health effects of poverty. In 2012, he was a member of the Maryland Health Quality and Cost Council’s Health Disparity Work Group. The final report was translated into legislation and passed into law as the Maryland Health Improvement and Disparities Reduction Act of 2012. In 2014, Democratic Gov. O’Malley appointed Dr. Thomas to the Maryland Health Care Commission, an independent regulatory agency whose mission is to plan for health system needs, promote informed decision-making, increase accountability, and improve access to quality medical and dental care. In 2019, Republican Gov. Larry Hogan appointed him to a new full term on the Commission.