The Lurie Institute for Disability Policy

Lurie Postdoctoral Fellowship in Disability and Health Policy

About Our Postdoctoral Program

A Lurie Institute employee is looking at the Lurie Institute director in a meeting

Highly-Structured Training Program

The fellowship program includes direct mentorship, partnerships and learning experiences in the disability community, didactic coursework, high-level work on a funded research project, development and execution of independent research, a weekly research seminar, advanced training in knowledge translation, scientific writing, and grant proposal writing.
Visual illustrating Primary and secondary mentors pointing to the postdoctoral fellows and postdoctoral fellows pointing to graduate students and undergrad fellows

Cascading Mentorship

Postdoctoral Fellows receive mentorship from primary mentors based at Brandeis University and secondary mentors, national experts in disability-related fields. Fellows also have the opportunity to mentor undergraduate researchers and grad students.
A South Asian person in her wheelchair takes notes by hand during a meeting.

Next generation of researchers

We build on the successes of our existing comprehensive two-year postdoctoral research training program, through which we have successfully trained several postdoctoral fellows and are currently training additional fellows.

The Fellowship

The Lurie Institute for Disability Policy offers a two-year postdoctoral fellowship in disability and health research for emerging scholars interested in disability justice, social policy, and public health. The Postdoctoral Program began in 2015 with funding from National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) and the Lurie Institute for Disability Policy.


The Lurie Institute Postdoctoral Fellowship Program prepares early-career scholars to conduct rigorous research that acknowledges the complex realities in which people with disabilities live. Lurie Postdoctoral Fellows engage in interdisciplinary, intellectually rigorous research on the health, wellbeing, and social inclusion of people with disabilities.

Our postdoctoral fellows’ training includes immediate engagement in an existing research program, coupled with opportunities to prepare grant proposals, manage research projects, develop scholarly articles and presentations, and disseminate findings to advocates and policymakers. Postdoctoral fellows will attend a weekly disability policy seminar, which will address a range of topics related to disability health and function research. They will also have free access to Brandeis advanced coursework. Fellows will have the opportunity to develop their own independent research programs.


Applicants should have earned their PhD or other terminal doctoral degree in the past two years from an accredited U.S. or international university in sociology, disability studies, medicine, epidemiology, public health, public policy, or another discipline that addresses the interactions between people with disabilities and the society in which they live. You may also apply if you expect to receive your PhD within the coming academic year.

Financial Support

We offer a competitive postdoctoral stipend. NIDILRR also provides limited funds for travel and research supplies, and the Lurie Institute provides general supplies, equipment, and computing support. Fellows are also eligible for excellent fringe benefits.

How to Apply

If you are interested in applying for the fellowship, please review the full announcement. Please include all documents in a single PDF file:

  • Cover letter
  • Curriculum vitae
  • One-page statement of research interests
  • Abstract of your doctoral dissertation
  • Three publications or peer-reviewed journal articles

Finalist candidates will be asked for three academic or professional letters of reference. As a research institute dedicated to advancing social justice through research, we encourage people with disabilities, members of racial and ethnic minorities, and LGBTQ people to apply. We are an equal-opportunity employer.


Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Appointment dates are flexible.

Primary Mentors

Dolores Acevedo-Garcia

Dolores Acevedo-Garcia, PhD, holds an endowed professorship in Human Development and Social Policy, and is Director of the Institute for Child, Youth and Family Policy at the Heller School. Her research focuses on the social determinants of racial and ethnic health disparities, the role of social policies in reducing disparities, and the health and well-being of children with disabilities. Dr. Acevedo-Garcia contributes expertise in racial and ethnic disparities, social determinants of health and health of children with disabilities.

Ilhom Akobirshoev

Ilhom Akobirshoev, PhD, MA, MSW, is a Research Scientist at the Lurie Institute for Disability Policy. Dr. Akobirshoev’s research examines the contribution of different “contextual environments” – family, neighborhood, and other social and economic systems and health and social welfare policies – to disparities in health care service utilization, quality of care, and health outcomes among children and adults with disabilities. He contributes expertise in analyzing population-based datasets and health disparities research.

Rachel Sayko Adams

Rachel Sayko Adams, PhD, is a Scientist at the Institute for Behavioral Health at the Heller School. She has authored several papers on the relationship between experiencing a deployment-acquired traumatic brain injury and postdeployment alcohol use and its consequences. She is the Co-PI of the NIDILRR-funded study on Intersecting Research on Opioid Misuse, Addiction, and Disability Services. Dr. Adams contributes expertise in health service research, substance use, traumatic brain injury, and health policy.

Christine Bishop

Christine Bishop, PhD, is a Professor at the Heller School and a health economist. Her studies in long-term services and supports and Medicare post-acute services have been concerned with both provider and recipient behavior, considering costs, production efficiency, payment, financing, and utilization of nursing homes and home health services. Dr. Bishop contributes expertise in research related to long-term services and supports.

Mary Brolin

Mary Brolin, PhD, is a Scientist at the Heller School. Dr. Brolin conducts mixed methods research related to services for youth, low-income people, chronically homeless people, and criminal justice populations. She contributes expertise in the evaluation of complex policies and multi-site community-based intervention programs, mixed methods research, and the transfer of knowledge to policymakers and community stakeholders.

Joe Caldwell

Joe Caldwell, PhD, is Senior Scientist and Director of the Community Living Policy Center. His work focuses on home and community-based services and supports for individuals with disabilities and family caregivers. Dr. Caldwell contributes expertise in home and community-based services, family caregiver supports, and long-term services and supports.

Mike Doonan

Mike Doonan, PhD, is an Associate Professor and Director for the Masters of Public Policy Program at The Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University. He is the Executive Director of the Massachusetts Health Policy Forum and contributes expertise related to access to health care reform, federalism, Medicaid, federal/state relations, public health and the politics and economics of health system change.

Susan Eaton

Susan Eaton, EdD, is Professor of Practice in Social Policy and Director of the Sillerman Center for the Advancement of Philanthropy at the Heller School. Dr. Eaton focuses on social justice philanthropy and immigration policy. Dr. Eaton contributes expertise in racial inequality in education and social justice philanthropy.

Pamina Firchow

Pamina Firchow, PhD, is an Associate Professor of Coexistence and Conflict at the Heller School. Her research interests include peacebuilding and transitional justice and supports efforts that promote participatory numbers and mixed method research. She contributes expertise in mixed-methods research and coexistence and conflict.

Miriam Heyman

Miriam Heyman, PhD, is a Senior Research Associate at the Lurie Institute for Disability Policy at Brandeis University, where she serves as Project Manager for the National Research Center for Parents with Disabilities. Her research reflects a lifespan approach to disability and mental health; her research has explored characteristics of the early childhood home and family environment that promote positive development for children with disabilities.

Dominic Hodgkin

Dominic Hodgkin, PhD, is a Professor at the Heller School. His research focuses on the effects of different organizing and financing approaches in health care, particularly addressing mental health and substance abuse treatment. Dr. Hodgkin contributes expertise in health economics, advanced statistical modeling, analyses of complex datasets, advanced research methods, and mental health policy research.

Margie Lachman

Margie Lachman, PhD, holds an endowed professorship in psychology and is Director of the Lifespan Developmental Psychology Lab at Brandeis. She also co-directs an NIH-funded pre- and post-doctoral training program. Her research examines lifespan development with a focus on midlife and later life. Dr. Lachman contributes expertise in aging and disability, intervention research, and survey research.

Tatjana Meschede

Tatjana Meschede, PhD, is the Associate Director for the Institute for Economic and Racial Equity. She oversees research related to financial well-being and risk of diverse U.S. population groups with a specific focus on racial wealth disparities. She is a co-investigator in the NIDILRR-funded Community Living Policy Center at the Lurie Institute. She contributes expertise in household economic security and risks, homelessness, racial and ethnic wealth disparities, and experience working with large national datasets.

Joanne Nicholson

Joanne Nicholson, PhD, is Professor in the Institute for Behavioral Health and a clinical and research psychologist with over 25 years of experience working with parents with serious mental illnesses and their families. She is co-PI of the NIDILRR-funded National Research Center for Parents with Disabilities. Dr. Nicholson contributes expertise in families and mental health, intervention development and testing, community engagement, implementation science, and mixed-methods research.

Sharon Reif

Sharon Reif, PhD, is Deputy Director of its Institute for Behavioral Health with over 25 years of experience conducting health services research related to substance use treatment. She is also the Co-PI of the NIDILRR-funded study on Intersecting Research on Opioid Misuse, Addiction, and Disability Services. For the ARRT, Dr. Reif contributes expertise in health services research, with a focus on substance use disorders and behavioral health.  

Cindy Parks Thomas

Cindy Parks Thomas, PhD, is Professor and Associate Dean for Research at the Heller School, with a research focus on state and national health reform, pharmacy policy, and prescription drug abuse. She is the co-investigator of the NIDILRR-funded study on Intersecting Research on Opioid Misuse, Addiction, and Disability Services. Dr. Thomas contributes expertise in health policy, addiction treatment, and Medicare and Medicaid.

Marji Erikson Warfield

Marji Erikson Warfield, PhD, is a Senior Scientist at the Heller School. Her research focuses on the transition from pediatric to adult health care for youth with disabilities and evaluations of various innovative models of service delivery. She contributes her expertise in the transition into adult health services for youth with disabilities, program evaluation, and the well-being of children and youth with disabilities.

Secondary Mentors

Kara Ayers

Kara Ayers, PhD, is the Associate Director and an Assistant Professor at the University of Cincinnati Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCCEDD). She is Director of the Dignity in Healthcare for People with Disabilities and also a co-founder of the Disabled Parenting Project. Dr. Ayers’ interests include disability identity/culture, bioethics, community inclusion, and the use of media to teach, empower, and reduce stigma.

Sarabeth Broder-Fingert

Sarabeth Broder-Fingert, MD, MPH is Vice Chair for Clinical Research in Pediatrics and Associate Director for Research at the Shriver Center at UMASS Medical School. She is a pediatric hospitalist and health services researcher who develops and tests interventions to improve the lives of vulnerable children. Dr. Brodert-Fingert’s interests include disparities in care for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other behavioral health conditions.

Hilary Brown

Hilary K. Brown, PhD is an Assistant Professor in the Interdisciplinary Centre for Health & Society at the University of Toronto, Scarborough. Her research focuses on disability and chronic disease, maternal and child health, and the use of health and social services administrative data for conducting epidemiologic research. Dr. Brown’s areas of teaching include public health, epidemiology, and reproductive health.

Deborah Carr

Deborah Carr, PhD is Professor and Chair of the Sociology department at Boston University. Her research interests include aging and the life course, psychosocial factors influences on health over the life course, and end-of-life issues.

Willi Horner-Johnson

Willi Horner-Johnson, PhD is an Associate Professor in the collaborative Oregon Health & Science University - Portland State University School of Public Health and in OHSU’s Institute on Development and Disability. Dr. Horner-Johnson is interested in reproductive health of women with disabilities, disparities in health and access to health care among people with disabilities, health-related quality of life among people with disabilities, and abuse/maltreatment of people with disabilities.

Lisa Iezzoni

Lisa I. Iezzoni, MD, MSc is Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Her research focuses on a broad range of health and health care experiences of individuals with disabilities

Steve Kaye

H. Stephen Kaye, Ph.D. is a Professor at the Institute for Health & Aging and the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the University of California, San Francisco. His primary research interests focus on community-based long-term services and supports needed by people with disabilities of all ages, employment issues among people with disabilities, use of information and assistive technology, and disability measurement and data collection.

Karen Kuhlthau

Karen A. Kuhlthau, PhD is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. She brings more than 25 years of research experience and interest in studies of children with disabilities, children with special health care needs (CSHCN), and children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Liz Lightfoot

Elizabeth Lightfoot, PhD is Professor and Doctoral Program Director at the University of Minnesota School of Social Work. Her main research interests are in the area of disability policy and services, and the intersections of disability with child welfare, aging, violence prevention and health.

Linda Long-Bellil

Linda M. Long-Bellil, PhD, JD is an assistant professor of Family Medicine and Community Health at UMass Medical School/Commonwealth Medicine, where she conducts disability and health research and policy analysis. Dr. Long-Bellil’s research interests include the unmet needs of people with disabilities for health care and home and community-based services.

Sandy Magaña

Sandy Magaña, PhD, MSW holds the Professorship in Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disabilities at the Steve Hicks School of Social Work, University of Texas at Austin. Dr Magana’s research focus is on the cultural context of families who care for persons with disabilities across the life course.

Suzanne McDermott

Suzanne McDermott, PhD is a tenured epidemiology Professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of South Carolina’s Arnold School of Public Health. Her areas of expertise and research focus on pregnancy exposures – infectious, medical, and environmental – on the neurodevelopment of infants with conditions such as autism spectrum disorders, intellectual disabilities, epilepsy, cerebral palsy, as well as the health of people with severe lifelong disabilities.

Mike McKee

Michael M. McKee, MD, MPH is an Associate Professor in the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School. He is a family physician with clinical and research expertise in disability health. As a physician with a hearing loss, he is especially interested in advocating for the rights of Deaf and hard of hearing patients to obtain equitable health care including accessible communication.

Sophie Mitra

Sophie Mitra, PhD is a Professor in the Department of Economics, co-director of the Disability Studies Program, and founding director of the Strategic Research Consortium on Disability at Fordham University. Her research interests relate to disability, health and international development.

Susan Parish

Susan Parish, PhD serves as Dean of the Virginia Commonwealth University College of Health Professions. She is a public health and social work researcher who investigates the health and financial well-being of children and adults with disabilities, and their caregiving families. In particular, Dr. Parish is interested in how people with disabilities are impacted by Medicaid, TANF, SSI, and SSDI policy.

Advisory Committee

To fully support the development of researchers adept at partnering with individuals and disability organizations to conduct relevant research, we have assembled a Community Advisory Board consisting of leaders of local and state disability advocacy, service and community organizations, and self-advocates with disabilities. Community Advisory Board members include:

Cheryl Cumings, Our Space Our Place

Colleen Flanagan, Disability Action for America

Darian B. Gambrell, DEAF, Inc.

Dennis Heaphy, MPH, Disability Policy Consortium

Bill Henning and Jennifer Podesva, Boston Center for Independent Living

Jeff Keilson, Advocates

Colin Killick, MPP, Disability Policy Consortium

Jean-Luc Pierite, North American Indian Center of Boston

Leo Sarkissian, The ARC of Massachusetts

Heather Watkins, Disability Advocate

Brenda Vezina, Central MA Recovery Learning Community