Tamara Dubowitz

Photo of Tamara Dubowitz
Senior Policy Researcher; Faculty, Pardee RAND Graduate School
Pittsburgh Office


Sc.D. in public health nutrition/social epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health; S.M. in maternal and child health, Harvard School of Public Health; M.Sc. in anthropology, University of Pennsylvania

Media Resources

This researcher is available for interviews.

To arrange an interview, contact the RAND Office of Media Relations at (310) 451-6913, or email media@rand.org.

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Tamara Dubowitz is a senior policy researcher at the RAND Corporation and faculty at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. Trained in social epidemiology with concentrations in maternal and child health and public health nutrition, Dubowitz's research interests include neighborhood effects, particularly that of the built physical and social environment; obesity and diet-related disease; and the health and nutrition effects of policy (e.g., housing policy, food policy, urban planning) and monitoring and evaluation. Her work has utilized both quantitative and qualitative methods to examine individuals within their social and structural contexts.

In addition to spending more than two years working on women's health programs and development with the Peace Corps in Burkina Faso, West Africa, Dubowitz has experience with monitoring and evaluation of programs domestically and internationally. Her more recent research has looked at neighborhood investments and assets, from new full-service supermarkets in food deserts to greenspace and parks, housing and the streetscape and its impact on resident health. Dubowitz received her M.Sc. in anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania and her S.M. and Sc.D. from the Harvard School of Public Health.

Recent Projects

  • Urban Revitalization and Long-Term Effects on Diet, Economic, and Health Outcomes
  • Neighborhood Change: Impact on Sleep and Obesity-Related Health Disparities
  • Robert Wood Johnson Culture of Health

Selected Publications

Andrea S Richardson, Wendy M Troxel, Madhumita Ghosh-Dastidar, Gerald P Hunter, Robin Beckman, Rebecca Collins, Stephanie Brooks Holliday, Alvin Nugroho, Lauren Hale, Daniel J Buysse, Matthew P Buman, Tamara Dubowitz, "Violent crime, police presence and poor sleep in two low-income urban predominantly Black American neighbourhoods ," J Epidemiol Community Health, (JECH-2020-), 2020

Richardson AS, Ghosh-Dastidar M, Beckman R, Flórez KR, DeSantis A, Collins RL, Dubowitz T., "Can the introduction of a full-service supermarket in a food desert improve residents' economic status and health?" Annals of Epidemiology, 27(12), 2017

Dubowitz T, Orleans T, Nelson C, May LW, Sloan JC, Chandra A., "Creating Healthier, More Equitable Communities By Improving Governance And Policy," Health Affairs, 35(11), 2016

Dubowitz T, Ghosh-Dastidar B, Cohen D, Beckman R, Steiner E, Hunter G, Cummins S, Florez K, Huang, C, Zenk S, Sloan J, Collins RL., "Residents’ Diet and Perceptions Changed After A New Supermarket Came To A Food Desert, But Not Because Of Supermarket Use," Health Affairs, 34(11), 2015

Cohen DA, Collins R, Hunter G, Ghosh-Dastidar B, Dubowitz T., "Store Impulse Marketing Strategies and Body Mass Index," American Journal of Public Health, 105(7), 2015

Dubowitz T, Ghosh-Dastidar MB, Collins R, Escarce J., "Food policy research: we need better measurement, better study designs, and reasonable and measured actions based on the available evidence," Obesity, 21(1), 2013

Dubowitz T, Ghosh Dastidar M, Richardson AS, Colabianchi N, Beckman R, Hunter GP, Sloan JC, Nugroho AK, Collins RL, "Results from a natural experiment: initial neighbourhood investments do not change objectively-assessed physical activity, psychological distress or perceptions of the neighbourhood," Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act, 16(1), 2019

Jonathan Cantor, Robin Beckman, Rebecca L Collins, Madhumita Ghosh Dastidar, Andrea S Richardson, Tamara Dubowitz, "SNAP Participants Improved Food Security And Diet After A Full-Service Supermarket Opened In An Urban Food Desert," Health Affairs, 39(8), 2020


  • A woman receives a box of donated food items during the COVID-19 pandemic in her car, photo by SDI Productions/Getty Images

    Other Voices: Striking Rates of Food Insecurity in the Hill District and Homewood

    The number of Americans experiencing food insecurity has increased since the pandemic began. And rates are higher among African Americans, Hispanics, American Indians, and Alaska Natives. Proactive and aggressive policy actions could help reduce the inequities in places like Pittsburgh's Hill District and Homewood neighborhoods.

    Feb 9, 2021 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

  • Volunteers help at an annual Thanksgiving turkey giveaway, Inglewood, California, November 23, 2020, photo by Mike Blake/Reuters

    COVID-19 Has Offered Opportunities for Communities to Come Together

    The past year has been among the most turbulent in recent memory. Might recent crises provide a catalyst for a renewed sense of civic engagement that transcends some of the race and class divisions COVID-19 has exacerbated?

    Jan 13, 2021 The RAND Blog

  • A volunteer with Highpoint Charitable Services loads groceries into the car of a family in need at a food bank in LaGrange, Kentucky, April 13, 2020, photo by Bryan Woolston/Reuters

    In Pittsburgh: Feeding the Needy, and Protecting Workers on the Front Lines of the Pandemic

    Access to food could be critical to getting through the COVID-19 pandemic. Local leaders and policymakers may find themselves having to devote new resources to make sure all citizens have access to food and to protect those on the front lines.

    Apr 30, 2020 Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

  • Children pick up lunch at the Olympic Hills Elementary School, after schools were closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak, in Seattle, Washington, March 17, 2020, photo by Brian Snyder/Reuters

    Food Access: Challenges and Solutions Brought on by COVID-19

    For the 14.3 million American households already experiencing food insecurity before the pandemic, shutdowns and restrictions have created new layers of hardship. Tremendous efforts are already underway to help. But the weeks to come will surely demand more creative solutions from the public and private sectors.

    Mar 31, 2020 The RAND Blog

  • A grocery cart in front of a closed supermarket, photo by galbiati/Getty Images

    Pittsburgh's Hill District Is Losing More Than a Supermarket

    When the Shop 'n Save in Pittsburgh's Hill District closed its doors for good, residents lost the ability to go to a supermarket near their homes. But they also lost something less tangible: a symbol of hope, opportunity, and change for their neighborhood.

    Apr 1, 2019 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

  • A woman walks down the soda aisle at a grocery store in Los Angeles, California, April 7, 2011

    Fixing America's Food Deserts Alone Won't Fix Our Terrible Diets

    It's clearly hard to make healthy food choices if you can't get to a store that offers them. But what matters most is what you put in your cart once you get there.

    Dec 11, 2017 Los Angeles Times

  • A tired high school student in a classroom

    Students Shouldn't Lose Sleep Over the Liberty Bridge Fire

    The fire and resulting closure of the Liberty Bridge is forcing some Pittsburgh high school students to sacrifice sleep to meet a new 7:11 a.m. start time. Sleep loss has consequences for adolescents' minds, bodies, behavior, and for public safety.

    Sep 21, 2016 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

  • Fresh produce at a grocery store

    Location, Location, Location: Does the Food Desert Narrative Hold Up?

    There's little rigorous evidence to support the notion that 'food deserts' are driving the U.S. obesity epidemic. But this narrative has nearly become conventional wisdom. In response, stakeholders have poured hundreds of millions of dollars into bringing supermarkets to these neighborhoods.

    Oct 28, 2014 The RAND Blog

  • A 40-foot-high inflatable rubber duck, created by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman, is towed up the Allegheny River in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, September 2013

    Here's to Our Health

    Atop the new mayor's agenda should be improving the health and well-being of Pittsburgh residents. With an unassailable electoral mandate in hand, Mr. Peduto is positioned to take bold steps. And the best way to do that is by applying scientific and medical evidence to shape an integrated, citywide, health-policy framework.

    Nov 25, 2013 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

  • lettuce grocery store

    What Happens When a 'Food Desert' Gets an Oasis?

    In an era of budget constraints, policymakers confronting the U.S. obesity crisis need strong evidence from projects like PHRESH to inform decisions about where and how to invest, writes Tamara Dubowitz.

    Dec 13, 2012 The RAND Blog

  • A woman eats a hamburger

    Bedside Manners: Obesity Is Not All Your Fault

    We will be more successful at stemming the growing tide of obesity and improving our own health if everyone accepts their share of responsibility for the obesity epidemic, write Chloe E. Bird and Tamara Dubowitz.

    Jul 26, 2012 Girl with Pen, Bedside Manners blog