Robyn Gershon, MHS, DrPH

Robyn Gershon, MHS, DrPH, is a Professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics and the Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies at the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine. Prior to this appointment, she was a Professor of Clinical Sociomedical Sciences at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University in New York City, with a joint appointment at Columbia University's School of Nursing. She is a multidisciplinary occupational and environmental health and safety researcher with 20 years of experience in conducting complex, large scale, multi-method research studies.

Her research has centered on assessment and risk management issues in high risk work occupations. Currently, her work is on preparedness of the death care sector for managing mass fatalities. This work is novel in that it focuses on network analyses to test the hypothesis that more highly networked (and quality of networks) will predict preparedness. It also involves simulation modeling to test the capabilities of the death care sector stakeholders to respond to various scenarios. This study will be the first to assess the nation’s preparedness for management of mass fatalities.

Principal Research Interests

  • Occupational and environmental epidemiology
  • Assessment and risk management of hazards in high risk work settings
  • The interface of worker and patient safety
  • Disaster Preparedness in the workplace, including mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery from natural and man-made disasters
  • Integrated emergency management and disaster science
  • Translation of epidemiological research findings into organizational practices and regulatory control

Principal Teaching Activities (while at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health’s Public Health)

  • Course Director for Public Health Emergency Preparedness
  • Course Director for Social and Policy Implications of Bioterrorism and other Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • Course Director for scientific and grant writing courses for junior faculty members
  • Mentoring graduate students, postgraduates and junior faculty

Selected University & Public Service

  • Member, Chancellor’s Council on Faculty Life (CCFL)
  • Chair, CCFL Faculty Development Program Subcommittee
  • Member, CCFL Mentoring Subcommittee
  • Member, Institutional Biosafety Committee, University of California, San Francisco

Gershon R. World Trade Center Attack on September 11,2011. In: Landesman LY, Weisfuse IB, eds. Case Studies in Public Health Preparedness and Responses to Disasters. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning; 2014: 209-232.

Crowley* KA, Myers R, Magda LA, Morse SS, Brandt-Rauf P, Gershon RR. Prevalence and factors associated with 2009 to 2011 influenza vaccinations at a university medical center. American Journal of Infection Control. 2013 Feb 26;41(9):824-30. PMID: 23485370

Crowley* K, Myers R, Riley H, Morse S, Brandt-Rauf P, Gershon R. Using Participatory Action Research to Identify Strategies to Improve Pandemic Vaccination. Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness. 2013 June. doi: 10.1017/dmp.2013.72.

Lewis RC, Gershon RRM, Neitzel RL. Estimation of Permanent Noise-Induced Hearing Loss in an Urban Setting. Environ. Sci. Technol. 2013 May 29;47(12):6393-9. PMID: 23672684.

Gershon RR, Sherman MF, Magda LA, Riley HE, McAlexander TP, Neitzel R. Mass Transit Ridership and Self-Reported Hearing Health in an Urban Population. Journal of Urban Health, 2013 April; 90(2):262-75. PMID: 22711170.

Gershon RR, Kraus L, Raveis V, Sherman M, Kailes J. Emergency Preparedness in a Sample of Persons with Disabilities. American Journal of Disaster Medicine. 2013 Winter;8(1):35-47. PMID: 23716372.

Qureshi K, Gershon RR, Li D, Yamada S. Factors Related to Essential Workers' Ability and Willingness to Work and Comply with Personal Infection Control Protocol During a Large Scale  Influenza Pandemic in Hawaii. Journal of Emergency & Disaster Medicine. 2013; 2(1): 4-11.

Gershon RR, Dailey M, Magda LA, Riley HE, Conolly J, Silver A. Safety in the home healthcare sector: Development of a new household safety checklist. Journal of Patient Safety, 2012; 8(2) 1-9. PMID: 22543362.

Gershon RRM, Magda LA, Riley HEM, Sherman MF. The World Trade Center evacuation study: Factors associated with initiation and length of time for evacuation. Fire and Materials. 2011 February; 36(5-6):481-500. doi: 10.1002/fam.1080.

Neitzel R, Gershon R, McAlexandar T, Magda LA, Pearson J. Exposures to Transit and Other Sources of Noise Among New York City Residents. Environmental Science & Technology, 2012 Jan 3;46(1):500-8. Epub 2011 Dec 8. PMID: 22088203

Gershon RRM, Magda LA, Riley HEM, Merrill JA. Mass Fatality Preparedness in the Death Care Sector. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. 2011 Oct; 53(10) 1179-86. PMID: 21915068.

Sherman MF, Peyrot M, Magda LA, Gershon RRM. Modeling pre-evacuation delay by evacuees in World Trade Center Towers 1 and 2 on September 11, 2001: A revisit using regression analysis. Fire Safety Journal. 2011; 46(7) 414-424. doi: 10.1016/j.firesaf.2011.07.001.

Brandt-Rauf SI, Brandt-Rauf E, Gershon R, Li Y, Brandt-Rauf PW. Genes, Jobs, and Justice: Occupational medicine Physicians and the Ethical, Legal, and Social Issues of Genetic Testing in the Workplace. Ethics & Medicine. 2011; 27(1) 51-61.

Brandt-Rauf SI, Brandt-Rauf E, Gershon R, Brandt-Rauf PW. The differing perspectives of workers and occupational medicine physicians on the ethical, legal and social issues of genetic testing in the workplace. New Solutions. 2011; 21(1) 89-102. PMID: 21411427.

Gershon RR, Magda LA, Qureshi KA, Riley HE, Scanlon E, Carney MT, Richards RJ, Sherman MF. Factors associated with the ability and willingness of essential workers to report to duty during a pandemic. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.  2010 Oct; 52(10):995-1003. PMID: 20881624.

Magda LA, Canton AN, Gershon RRM. Web-based weapons of mass destruction training for transit police. Journal of Public Transportation. 2010; 13(3) 63-77.

Gershon RRM, Qureshi KA*, Barocas B*, Pearson JM, Dopson SA. Worksite Emergency Preparedness: Lessons from the World Trade Center Evacuation Study. In: Burke J, Cooper C, eds. International Terrorism and Threats to Security: Managerial and Organizational Challenges. Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar; 2008.

Gershon RRM, Pogorzelska M, Qureshi KA*, Stone PW, Canton AN*, Samar SM*, Westra LJ*, Damsky MR, Sherman M. Home health care patients and safety hazards in the home: preliminary findings. In: Henriksen K, Battles JB, Keyes MA, Grady ML, eds. Advances in Patient Safety: New Directions and Alternative Approaches. Vol. 1. Assessment. Rockville, MD: Agency for Health Care Research and Quality; 2008. AHRQ Publication No. 08-0034-1.

Selected Projects: 

National Science Foundation (NSF) Gershon (PI)

Systems-Level Mass Fatality Preparedness (10/01/12 – 09/30/14)
The purpose of this study is to add to our knowledge and identify gaps in preparedness for mass fatality disaster events. The findings from this study will help us develop strategies to make organizations better prepared for a mass fatality event. In particular, we are studying the preparedness of key stakeholders involved at both public and private levels in mass fatality management. These include the death care sector (funeral directors, cemeteries, and crematoriums); medical examiner/coroner’s offices; local health departments; state offices of emergency management; and faith-based organizations.

National Institute of Health General Medical Sciences Gershon (PI)

Biomedical Research Career Identification in Graduate Education (BRIDGE) (09/01/13 – 06/30/17)
BRIDGE is a complex four-year intervention study based on social cognitive theory predicting persistence in challenging academic environments. Interventions designed to encourage all doctoral students to pursue their career aspirations in the research sciences will be developed, implemented and tested at UCSF. We hope to obtain information that will lead to evidence-based programs that increase self-efficacy, outcome expectations, scientific identity, and persistence in pursuing a science research career among underrepresented minority (URM) and non-URM early stage doctoral students and therefore effectively support greater diversity in the science research career workforce.

National Institutes of Health Gershon (PI) 

Click Here to visit the BRIDGE Project website.

The Role of Social and Behavioral Factors on Disaster Planning in Home Care (08/07/13 – 07/31/15)

Although recent research indicates that social and behavioral factors play an important role with respect to disaster response, our knowledge of the role these factors play in disaster preparedness, is extremely limited. The goal of this study is to explore the expectations about emergency preparedness of elderly adults in two high risk cities: New York City and San Francisco; and compare their expectations to the actual capacity of home care agencies and local emergency response agencies. Information from this study will serve to inform policy strategies and have an impact not only within the home care sector, but at the local, state, and national levels of emergency planning and response.

United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Gershon (PI)

Healthy Homes, Healthy Seniors (05/01/10 – 08/31/12)
The recently completed study was conducted in a population of disadvantaged, mainly minority elderly community members from the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City. For the determination of household hazards, a new household environment survey tool was developed and validated. The tool was implemented in in a sample of 105 older adults’ households, including a sample of households with particularly vulnerable, elderly tenants. In cases where remediation required more extensive implementation, work orders were placed and follow-up performed. The study utilized a participatory action paradigm with extensive engagements of our collaborating partners—more than one dozen community based organizations.