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College of Social Work

Lopez-De Fede Receives Prestigious Public Health Award

Nov. 17, 2020
Chris Woodley •

Ana Lopez-De Fede, Ph.D., research professor and associate director of the College of Social Work’s Institute for Families in Society, received the 2020 Avedis Donabedian Award at last month’s American Public Health Association’s annual meeting, which was held virtually. The award is presented annually to reflect the work of Avedis Donabedian, MD, MPH, and recognize outstanding contributions to quality assurance and the improvement of health care. Dr. Donabedian is recognized as the preeminent thinker and contributor to the conceptual and practical advances in quality research during the formative years of the field of quality assurance.

At the APHA’s annual meeting, Lopez-De Fede was recognized for her current work to change systems for addressing long-standing disparities in health and health care for populations experiencing injustices. She presented her work on “Transformational and Applied Research: A journey in search of quality through a health equity lens” as the keynote 21st Annual Donabedian awardee lectureship.  

“I am humbled and honored to receive this award, recognizing my work exploring the intersection between communities of opportunities (vulnerable populations), equity, and health care delivery systems," Lopez-De Fede says. "No one receives this type of award without a team of individuals who support the research and embrace your passion for applied research.  I work with this type of team at UofSC, and this award is an acknowledgment of their work and commitment to improving the lives of vulnerable populations.”

Earlier this year, Lopez-De Fede secured a research portfolio of nearly $31 million over five years across multiple federal and state agencies. The Institute for Families in Society is nationally the fourth oldest university-academic partnerships with a Medicaid agency. This work supports vital Medicaid operations, reporting, applied research, and data analysis in the state.

Lopez-De Fede also led the creation of a website to showcase IFS’s work with the Medicaid population and provide stakeholders with publicly available information. It includes a COVID-19 section, which presents interactive dashboards of the Centers for Disease Control social vulnerability index, the social vulnerability and the South Carolina Medicaid population, and a COVID-19 integrated data tool for South Carolina with unemployment case.  This website was recently cited by the South Carolina COVID-19 Vaccination Distribution Plan as a source of information on the Medicaid population.

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