Rachel Shelton, ScD, MPH is a social and behavioral scientist with expertise in implementation science, cancer prevention, and community-based intervention research. She is Assistant Professor of Sociomedical Sciences at the Mailman School of Public Health, where she is the Associate Director of Research for the Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion. She is also the Associate Director of the Community Engagement Core Resource at the Irving Institute for Clinical and Translational Research, and directs a new university-wide initiative on Implementation Science at Columbia. Dr. Shelton developed and teaches one of the first courses offered in dissemination and implementation science nationally (since 2013), is an author in the 2018 textbook on Dissemination and Implementation Research in Health, and has been an invited speaker and expert trainer nationally and internationally in the field. Dr. Shelton has over 12 years of experience conducting mixed-methods research in both community-based and health system settings, with 60 peer-reviewed publications in journals including Translational Behavioral Medicine, Social Science & Medicine, American Journal of Public Health, Implementation Science, and Annual Reviews of Public Health. In addition to her work on advancing the implementation and sustainability of evidence-based interventions in real-world community and clinical settings (e.g. lay health advisor and navigator programs), she has published extensively on social and contextual factors that influence disparities in cancer and other chronic diseases among low-income African American and Hispanic populations, including social networks, discrimination, and medical mistrust. Dr. Shelton has been consecutively funded as Principal Investigator for the past eight years, with funding through American Cancer Society, National Cancer Institute, and National Institute on Aging (NIA). She is a former recipient of a K12 grant through the CTSA, and recently completed a Mentored Research Grant through the American Cancer Society to understand the role of social influences on outcomes for colon cancer patients when there is insufficient evidence to guide clinical decision-making. As PI, she conducted a R03 study to investigate factors that influence the implementation of lay health advisor programs in African American communities. Dr. Shelton is currently PI of a Research Scholar Grant for Health Equity through American Cancer Society focused on advancing understanding of the sustainability of lay health advisor programs in under-resourced community settings and is multiple-PI of a R01 grant through NIA focused on social stressors and resources related to behavioral and epigenetic aging processes. Dr. Shelton served as Program Chair for SBM's 2018 Annual Meeting and has received awards for her leadership and mentorship at SBM, including the Early Career Mentorship Award through the Student SIG, and the C. Tracy Orleans Distinguished Service Award.
ScD, 2008, Harvard School of Public Health
MPH, 2004, UNC-Chapel Hill School of Public Health
BA, 1998, University of Virginia
Associate Director of Research, Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion
Member, Obesity Prevention Initiative
Faculty, Department of Sociomedical Sciences
Member, Prevention, Control, and Disparities Program, Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center
Associate Director of Community Engagement Core Resource, Irving Institute CTSA at Columbia University
Adjunct Assistant Professor, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Department of Oncological Science/Cancer Prevention & Control
Program Chair, Society of Behavioral Medicine 2017/2018
Editorial Board, Health Education & Behavior
Honors & Awards
NIH Health Disparities LRP Award, National Center on Minority Health & Health Disparities, 2009-2014
Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award, Harvard School of Public Health, 2005-2006
Kathy Kerr Memorial Scholarship, UNC-Chapel Hill, 2003
Fellow, Training Institute for Dissemination & Implementation Research in Health, 2015
Provost's Award to Promote Diversity at Columbia University, 2017
Areas of Expertise
Cancer, Cancer Breast, Cancer Colon, Cancer Prostate, Cancer Screening, Community Programs and Outreach, Community-Based Healthcare, Discrimination/Bias, Disparities / Inequalities in Health, Minority Health, Social / Cultural Issues, Social Capital, Social Epidemiology, Social Factors in Health, Underserved Populations, Women's Health, Urban Health
Shelton, R. C., Lee, M., Brotzman, L. E., Crookes, D. M., Jandorf, L., Erwin, D., & Gage-Bouchard, E. (2018). Use of social network analysis in the development, dissemination, implementation, and sustainability of health behavior interventions for adults: A systematic review. Social Science & Medicine.
Shelton RC, Cooper BR, Stirman SW. The Sustainability of Evidence-Based Interventions and Practices in Public Health and Health Care. Annu Rev Public Health. 2018 Jan 12. doi: 10.1146/annurev-publhealth-040617-014731.
RC Shelton, TA Charles, SK Dunston, L Jandorf, DO Erwin. Advancing understanding of the sustainability of lay health advisor (LHA) programs for African-American women in community settings Translational Behavioral Medicine, 2017; 1-12
Shelton RC, Dunston SK, Leoce N, Jandorf L, Thompson HS, Erwin DO. Advancing Understanding of the Characteristics and Capacity of African American Women Who Serve as Lay Health Advisors in Community-Based Settings. Health Educ Behav. 2017 May 19. pii: 1090198116646365.
Shelton RC, Dunston SK, Leoce N, Jandorf L, Thompson HS, Crookes DM, Erwin DO. Predictors of activity level and retention among African American lay health advisors (LHAs) from The National Witness Project: Implications for the implementation and sustainability of community-based LHA programs from a longitudinal study. Implement Sci. 2016 Mar 22;11:41. doi: 10.1186/s13012-016-0403-9.
Shelton RC, Jandorf L, Ellison J, Villagra C, DuHamel KN. The Influence of sociocultural factors on colorectal cancer screening adherence among low-income Hispanics. Journal of Healthcare for the Poor & Underserved. 22(3) 925-44 2011
Shelton RC, Puleo E, Bennett GG, McNeill LH, Wolin KY, Emmons KM. The Association between Social Factors and Physical Activity among Low-Income Adults Living in Public Housing. American Journal of Public Health. 101(11) 2102-10 2011
Shelton RC, Goldman R, Emmons KM, Sorensen G, Allen JD. An Investigation into the Social Context of Low-income, Urban Black and Latina Women: Implications for Adherence to Recommended Health Behaviors. Health Education & Behavior. 38(5) 471-81 2011
Shelton RC, Winkel G, Davis S, Roberts N, Valdimarsdottir H, Hall SJ, Thompson HS. Validation of the Group-Based Medical Mistrust Scale among Urban Black Men. Journal of General Internal Medicine. 25(6) 549-55 2010
Shelton RC, Puleo E, Bennett GG, McNeill LH, Goldman R, Emmons KM. Racial Discrimination and Physical Activity among Low-income Housing Residents. American Journal of Preventive Medicine 37(6) 541-5 2009