The Medical Anthropology Program at Wayne State University draws on its setting in Detroit to combine attention to health and the city, both locally and globally. Since the late 1970s, WSU has offered a rigorous training program focusing on practice and theory leading to M.A., Ph.D., and a joint M.D./Ph.D. degrees. Training within the program includes ongoing practica at the M.A. and Ph.D. levels in which students have opportunities to develop and sharpen their skills and to engage with an enduring research area in the pursuit of advancing scholarship, knowledge, and solving real world problems.  

Areas of expertise include:

  • Adolescence
  • Aging
  • Care and caregiving
  • Chronic illness and health disparities
  • Culture and disability
  • Death and dying
  • Health care organization
  • Medical historiography
  • Philosophy of medicine
  • Substance use and abuse
  • Regional expertise: North America, China, Rwanda, Mongolia, New Guinea, France


Wayne State University is designated by the Carnegie Foundation as a Research I institution, a distinction that is granted to only 88 universities of the 3,600 US institutions of higher learning. Faculty in the medical anthropology program actively conduct research funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation, as well as private foundations and industry. 

Faculty within the program are engaged in several ongoing projects, including:

Dr. Andrea Sankar, Dr. Mark Luborsky, and several graduate students are analyzing, writing up, and publishing findings from their 5 year longitudinal NIAID funded study of African Americans’ adherence to anti-retroviral therapy for HIV, known as the HAART Project.

The core faculty members in the program are affiliated with other research centers on campus, including the Research Program on Aging and Health Disparities headed by Dr. Mark Luborsky in the Institute of Gerontology, Karmanos Cancer Institute, The Center to Advance Palliative Care Excellence, and the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health Sciences. Faculty members are also engaged in collaborative activities off campus with the Henry Ford Health Systems, Detroit Medical Center, Children’s Hospital of Michigan, University of Michigan Substance Abuse Research Center, Family Health International, Karolinska Institutet, Université de Montréal, Le Médicament comme Objet Social (MéOS) research group.

DEGREES OFFERED: The Department offers M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Anthropology specializing in Medical Anthropology, as well as a joint M.D./Ph.D.


Andrea Sankar, Ph.D., Professor of Anthropology, Chair and Director of Medical Anthropology Program

Research Interests: creation and maintenance of systemic inequalities, HIV/AIDS, care and caregiving, health and information technologies, African-American health, death and dying, health and well-being in Sub-Saharan Africa

     • Phone: 313-577-6961
     • E-mail:

Research Interests: medical anthropology; addiction; adolescence; conceptions of patienthood; history of medicine (history of endocrinology, neurology and psychiatry, epidemiology and public health); sexually transmitted infections; pharmacotherapy; urban health 
     • Phone: 313-577-6795
     • E-Mail:

Mark Luborsky, Ph.D., Professor of Anthropology, Director of Aging and Health Disparities Research, Institute of Gerontology

Research Interests: cultural constructs & practices related to effective individual and group functioning across the life-span and aging, physical and mental health, disability, loss and life reorganization in normative and non-normative life transitions, narrative, life history and ethnographic methods development
     • Phone: 313-577-6790
     • E-mail:


Kimberly Campbell-Voytal, Ph.D., RN, Assistant Professor of Family Medicine and Public Health Sciences

Cathy Lysack, Ph.D., O.T.(C), Deputy Director of the Institute of Gerontology (IOG) and a Professor in the Department of Health Care Sciences (Occupational Therapy) at the Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. 

Contact Address:

Dr. Andrea Sankar, Director of Medical Anthropology Program
Department of Anthropology
Wayne State University
3052 Faculty and Administration Building
656 W. Kirby
Detroit, MI 48202
Telephone: 313-577-6961
Fax: 313-577-5958

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