Welcome, Visiting Scholar Dr. Marguerite Burns!

January 24 @ 6:18 pm
By Communications Office

Dr. Marguerite Burns, an associate professor in population health sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Medicine and Public Health, arrived at our School at the start of this academic year as a visiting associate professor.

The reason we haven’t caught up with her until now? She hit the ground running in her role of supporting HEALing Communities, the new NIDA-funded initiative led by University Professor Nabila El-Bassel. The aim of that study—to reduce the incidence of fatal opioid overdoses in 16 of New York State’s most heavily affected counties in just over four years—has El-Bassel’s entire research team working at full speed.

Without further ado, here is an edited version of our recent exchange with Burns about what she hopes to achieve during her year at Columbia.


You hold a PhD in Population Health Sciences from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where you’re also an associate professor and an affiliate with various institutes, such as the Institute for Research on Poverty. What is your research focus?
My research focuses on health policy and health economics: in particular, on understanding the consequences of public health insurance design on individual health and health care use, interactions with other public welfare programs, and public resource use.

How did you get interested in this set of topics?
I started my professional career as an administrator at a community health center where one of my main responsibilities was to increase the availability and accessibility of health care for adults with serious health problems. I was motivated to go to grad school to learn about the policies and interventions that were effective at doing that, and how to assess their effectiveness.

We understand you will be with us for the entire 2019–2020 academic year. What kind of scholarly activity do you have planned for your time here?
My current research focuses on the role that Medicaid coverage plays in influencing post-incarceration health and welfare outcomes for adults with substance use disorders. While collaborating with Dr. El-Bassel and her team on the NIDA Healing Communities Study, I am interested in learning more about the range of resources and opportunities available in community justice settings to mitigate the harms from opioid use disorder and to promote recovery. How will the communities in the study prioritize and engage those resources to reduce opioid use? I am also very interested in how to translate disparate types of data into meaningful and standardized outcome measures for substance use treatment.

Is this your first time in New York City?
I’ve been here several times to visit, but it’s my first time living in New York City.

Anything in particular you look forward to doing or seeing during your stay in New York?
I look forward to spending time with my New York City relatives, and seeing a lot of theater.

Thank you, Dr. Burns. To other members of the School’s community: Please join us in giving Dr. Burns a warm (albeit belated) welcome!


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