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Olivia Carter-Pokras

Olivia Carter-Pokras

Professor Emerita, Epidemiology

A health disparities researcher for four decades, Dr. Olivia Carter-Pokras has been recognized by the Governor of Maryland, Surgeon General, Assistant Secretary for Health, and Latino Caucus of the American Public Health Association for her career achievements to improve racial/ethnic data, develop health policy to address health disparities, and improve health care quality for Latinos. Dr. Carter-Pokras recently served as the PI for a PCORI engagement contract “The Patient Voice in Cultural Diversity Training for Patient Centered Outcomes Researchers,” and a School Health Chronic Disease Epidemiology and Evaluation Project for the state of Maryland. She also served as Co-Investigator for the University of Maryland’s PATIENTS program which supports patient-centered outcomes research at the University of Maryland.

Areas of Interest


Dr. Carter-Pokras has led NIH-funded research projects to develop cultural competency and health literacy curricula and served as Co-Investigator for a European Commission-funded project to develop cultural diversity training for health professional educators. A long-time member of Montgomery County’s Latino Health Steering Committee, Dr. Carter-Pokras conducts health assessments and program evaluation for Latinos in close partnership with local government and community-based organizations. Dr. Carter-Pokras has published 77 peer-reviewed journal articles (cited over 5783 times), and her research has played a critical role in national recognition of health disparities experienced by Latinos.

She is an elected fellow of the American College of Epidemiology and chaired the American College of Epidemiology’s Policy Committee. Dr. Carter-Pokras has served on the boards of the American College of Epidemiology and the American Public Health Association and was a member of the Institute of Medicine’s Advancing Pain Research, Care, and Education Committee, and the population research workgroup that contributed to the National Pain Strategy. She has a particular interest in the translation of epidemiologic research into policy and practice to improve Latino population health. Dr. Carter-Pokras lectures on infectious and chronic disease epidemiology, epidemiologic methods, cultural competency and health disparities to public health students and health professionals. She leads a short-term study abroad course to the Bolivian Amazon (Global Health Lessons in Ecotourism and Community Health ) and contributes to a website on the environmental, social and health implications of planned mega-dams in the area. 

1994, The Johns Hopkins University, Epidemiology, PhD

1982, The Johns Hopkins University, Biostatistics,  MHS

1979, Tulane University, Biology, BS

2016, Muriel R. Sloan Communitarian Award, University of Maryland School of Public Health

2014, Pioneer in Pain Award for service on the Institute of Medicine (IOM) Committee on Advancing Pain Research, Care, and Education. Western Pain Society.

2013, 2014, Merit Award, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of Maryland School of Public Health

2013, American Public Health Association award for service on the APHA Education Board 2010-2013

2013, Jerry P. Wrenn Outstanding Service Award, University of Maryland School of Public Health

2008-2012, Recognized at annual University-Wide Celebration of Scholarship and Research

2011, American Public Health Association 2011 CoA Reception award for service on ACBI Advisory Committee

2011, Faculty Inductee, University of Maryland School of Public Health Gamma Zeta Chapter of Delta Omega, the Honorary Society in Public Health

2010, American Public Health Association award for leadership and service on the APHA Executive Board 2006-2010

2010, Governor’s Hispanic Heritage Month Awardee:  Healthcare Champion

2006, Latino Health Initiative, Montgomery County recognition plaque

2005, Montgomery County Executive Certificate of Recognition & Appreciation

Dogra N, Carter-Pokras O. Chapter 31. Diversity in Medical Education. In: Understanding Medical Education (3rd edition). Association for the Study of Medical Education. Wiley-Blackwell. 2019.  

Carter-Pokras O, Bugbee BA, Gold RS, Lauver    PE, Aiken R, Arria AM. Utilizing Student Health and Academic Data: A County-level       Demonstration Project. Health Promot Pract. 2019 Aug 9:1524839919862796.

Fisher JA, Puett RC, Laden F, Wellenius GA, Sapkota A, Liao D, Yanosky JD, Carter-Pokras O, He X, Hart JE. Case-crossover Analysis of Short-term Particulate Matter Exposures and Stroke in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. Environment International. March 2019; 124: 153-160. Available at:

Sorensen J, Norredam M, Suurmond J, Carter-Pokras O, Garcia-Ramirez M, Krasnik A. Need for ensuring ompetence in edical European niversities. BMC Medical Education. B19

Allukian M Jr, Carter-Pokras OD, Gooch BF, Horowitz AM, Iida H, Jacob M, Kleinman DV^, Kumar J, Maas WR, Pollick H, Rozier RG. Science, politics, and communication: The Case of Community Water Fluoridation in the US. . 2018 Jun;28(6):401-410. doi: 10.1016/j.annepidem.2017.05.014. Epub 2017 May 29.

Thiel de Bocanegra H^, Carter-Pokras O, Ingleby JD, Pottie K, Tchangalova N, Allen SI, Smith-Gagen J, Hidalgo B. Addressing refugee health through evidence-based policies: a case study. .

Demarco M, Carter-Pokras O, Hyun N, Castle P, He X, Dallal C, Chen J, Gage G, Befano B, Fetterman, Lorey T, Poitras N, Raine-Bennett T, Wentzensen N, Schiffman M. Validation of an HPV DNA cervical screening test that provides expanded HPV typing. Journal of Clinical Microbiology. 2018 Feb 28. pii: JCM.01910-17. doi: 10.1128/JCM.01910-17. [Epub ahead of print]

Jaschek GCarter-Pokras ODHe XLee SCanino G. Association of Types of Life Events with Depressive Symptoms among Puerto Rican Youth. PLoS One. 2016 Oct 27;11(10):e0164852.

Von Korff M, Scher A, Helmick C, Carter-Pokras O, Dodick D, Goulet J, Hamill-Ruth R,  LeResche L, Porter L, Tait R, Terman G, Veasley C, Mackey S.  United States National Pain Strategy for Population Research: Concepts, Definitions and Pilot Data. J Pain. 2016 Oct;17(10):1068-80.

Jaschek G, Carter-Pokras O, He X, Lee S, Canino G. Association of child maltreatment and depressive symptoms among Puerto Rican youth. Child Abuse Negl. 2016 Aug;58:63-71.