Faculty Profile

Philippa Clarke

Philippa Janet Clarke, PhD, MSc

  • Professor, Epidemiology
  • Research Professor, Institute for Social Research

Dr. Clarke received her Ph.D. in Public Health from the University of Toronto in 2000. Her research interests are in social epidemiology, social gerontology, life course perspectives, models of disability, and population health. Her research examines the role of the built and social environment for disability, cognitive function, and social participation. She has used various methods to capture characteristics in the built environment, including the use of secondary data sources (e.g., Census, NETS), in-person neighborhood audits (using Systematic Social Observation), and virtual web-based neighborhood audits (using Google Street View). She has compared the reliability and validity of these different methods, publishing one of the first papers on the use of Google Street View for this purpose. She also directs the National Neighborhood Data Archive (NaNDA) (nanda.isr.umich.edu) a nation-wide repository of publicly available contextual data spanning close to two decades. The goal of NaNDA is to minimize redundancy in the creation of contextual measures across federally funded research projects and to promote the examination of spatial contexts as they relate to health inequalities in other survey, cohort, or clinical data.

  • PhD, University of Toronto, 2000
  • MSc, University of Toronto, 1996
  • BA, McGill University, 1987

Research Interests:
Social epidemiology, social gerontology, life course perspectives, disability, population health

Research Projects:
NaNDA (Clarke PI): The National Neighborhood Data Archive (https://nanda.isr.umich.edu/). The National Neighborhood Data Archive (NaNDA) is a publicly available nation-wide data archive containing measures of the physical, economic, demographic, and social environment at multiple levels of spatial scale (eg, census tract, ZIP code tabulation area, county). The goal of NaNDA is to minimize redundancy in the creation of neighborhood measures across federally funded research projects, and to promote the examination of spatial contexts as they relate to health inequalities. NaNDA measures span more than two decades and allow other researchers to link neighborhood features to geographic identifiers in other survey, cohort, or clinical data, and to pursue research questions on a multitude of health outcomes. I am committed to the sharing of data and resource infrastructure to support cutting-edge research to improve the health, well-being and independence of adults as they age. Each NaNDA dataset covers all or most of the entire nation (including both rural and urban areas) and represents a set of measures on a single topic of interest, including socioeconomic disadvantage, healthcare, housing, partisanship, and public transit, with temporal coverage dating back to 2000.

A National Neighborhood Data Resource to Understand Inequities in the Health and Socioeconomic Impacts of COVID-19 in the United States (NIH U01, Clarke / Noppert MPI). The goal of this project is to augment NaNDA's data holdings with new measures since the COVID-19 pandemic. We will identify which neighborhoods have been most vulnerable to the the pandemic, and examine how long term trajectories of neighborhood change before the pandemic have put communities at greater risk (or resilience) to COVID-19.

Cognitive Resilience and Community Context: Examining the role of Neighborhood Built and Social Environments for Slowing the Progression of Dementia among older Americans. (NIH R01, Clarke PI). The aim of this project is to examine how neighborhood built and social environments are associated with trajectories of cognitive decline in a racially diverse cohort of older Americans followed over two decades.

Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (RRTC) on Promoting Healthy Aging for People with Long-Term Physical Disabilities. (NIDILRR, Meade PI, Clarke / Rontal MPI). The goal of this project is to promote the healthy aging of adults with long-term physical impairments and disabilities. This will be achieved by identifying factors at the intersection of the person and environment that impede or support positive health and function outcomes and creating solutions that improve the fit between the two.

Socio-Environmental Factors Associated with Healthy Aging after Spinal Cord Injury. (Craig H. Neilsen Foundation. Clarke PI). The purpose of this research is to examine the role of social and environmental factors in shaping healthy aging among the growing number of adults aging with spinal cord injury.

Clarke PJ, Ailshire JA, Bader M, Morenoff JD, House JS. Mobility disability and the urban built environment. American Journal of Epidemiology 2008;168:506-513. DOI: 10.1093/aje/kwn185. 

Clarke PJ, Ailshire J, Melendez R, Bader M, Morenoff J. Using Google Earth to conduct a neighborhood audit: Reliability of a virtual audit instrument. Health and Place 2010;16:1224-1229. DOI: 10.1016/j.healthplace.2010.08.007. 

Clarke PJ, Ailshire J, Nieuwenhuijsen E, de Kleijn - de Vrankrijker M. Participation among adults with disability: The role of the urban environment. Social Science and Medicine 2011;72:1674-1684. DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2011.03.025. 

Clarke PJ, Ailshire J, House JS, Morenoff JM, King K, Melendez R, Langa K. Cognitive function in the community setting: The neighborhood as a source of "cognitive reserve"? Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health 2012,66:730-736. DOI: 10.1136/jech.2010.128116. 

Clarke PJ, Gallagher NA. Optimizing mobility in later life: The role of the urban built environment for older adults aging in place. Journal of Urban Health. 2013;90(6):997-1009. DOI: 1007/s11524-013-9800-4. 

Clarke PJ, Latham K. Life course health and socioeconomic profiles of Americans aging with disability. Disability and Health Journal; Special Issue: Aging with Disability. 2014;7(1, Supplement): S15-S23. DOI: 10.1016/j.dhjo.2013.08.008 

A full list of my publications can be found at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/myncbi/philippa.clarke.1/bibliography/public/ 

Email: pjclarke@umich.edu
Office: 734-647-9611

426 Thompson Street, Room 3352
Ann Arbor, MI, 48104

Areas of Expertise: Aging,  Health Equity,  Urban Health