Director Rachel Snow
CARSS director Rachel Snow is no stranger to the territory between university research and applied technology. An international specialist in reproductive health, her work has long focused on the evaluation and adoption of new reproductive health technologies and health services, and it has taken her all over the world.
Snow, an associate professor in the U-M School of Public Health and an associate research professor at the Center for Population Studies at ISR, has been a frequent technical consultant to the World Health Organization since 1991. Before coming to Michigan in 2003 she taught at the University of Heidelberg (Germany) and at Harvard.
An elite college rower at Mt. Holyoke, Snow’s academic interest in reproductive health began with a question about reduced ovarian function in women athletes, which led to a doctorate in population sciences from Harvard, and a specialty in steroid metabolism. Her international research began in China with a MacArthur Population Leadership Fellowship, and work with WHO to understand global variations in the side-effects women were experiencing on steroid contraceptives, in international clinical trials.
A founding editor of the African Journal of Reproductive Health, Snow’s research gave increasing attention to women’s voices in clinical trials, and how health services and research can better promote gender justice. In a field where topics can easily be swept up in a tide of rhetoric, Snow takes pride in rigorous, show-me-the science empiricism. A member of the recent WHO Global Commission on Social Determinants of Health, her work continues to focus on gender and vulnerability, and whether global health interventions are responsive to public needs.
Snow joined CARSS in October 2011, following the retirement of CARSS founder, David Featherman.
“I think David’s vision was spot-on,” she said. “He saw that the gaps within the academic sector were in incubation and translation. I think there’s diminishing space within the university for either of these. There is much stated enthusiasm for us to be interdisciplinary, but the reality is that career trajectories, funding and credibility occur largely within disciplines. CARSS can offer support for intellectual risk-taking and testing novel solutions.”