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Samuel D. Towne, Ph.D., MPH, CPH

Assistant Professor

Health Management and Informatics

Office: DPAC Suite 401

Phone: 407-823-1670


Professional Summary

Dr. Towne’s major research focus is health disparities among vulnerable populations (e.g., rural, low-income, racial or ethnic minority, older adults) and geographic distributions of health-related measures (e.g., the intersection of health and place). His work spans studies focused on community-level influences on individual outcomes within states, national studies in the US and multiple studies outside the US (e.g., China, Israel) related to health disparities. He applies both his behavioral training (BS in Phycology, MPH in Community Health with his major concentration on Health Promotion and Health Education) and health services, policy, and management (PhD) training to public health issues facing vulnerable populations in his past and current roles. He did his postdoctoral training in Aging and Minority Health Disparities at Texas A&M after graduating with his PhD in Health Services, Policy, and Management from the University of South Carolina’s Arnold School of Public Health. Dr. Towne is now a tenure-track Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Management and Informatics with a joint appointment with the Disability, Aging, and Technology Faculty Cluster Initiative at the University of Central Florida. He is also a faculty associate with the Center for Population Health and Aging and the Southwest Rural Health Research Center both at Texas A&M University. He also holds an adjunct faculty position in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health at Texas A&M University. He is a central member of several cross-disciplinary teams involving urban planning, computer sciences, medicine, geography, and public health seeking to tackle problems from multiple social ecological levels. He is the recipient of numerous national awards including the Judy K. Black Early Career Research Award from AAHB and has led or co-authored more than 60 peer-reviewed scientific articles published in national and international journals and 6 book chapters since graduating with his PhD in 2013.


Bachelor of Science, Psychology
College of Arts and Sciences, University of North Florida

Master of Public Health, Health Promotion and Health Education
Brooks College of Health, University of North Florida

Doctor of Philosophy, Health Services Policy and Management
Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina

Postdoctoral Training, Health Disparities and Aging Research
Program on Healthy Aging, Department of Health Promotion & Community Health Sciences, School of Public Health, Texas A&M Health Science Center

Areas of Expertise

  • Health Services Research
  • Health Policy
  • Medical Geography

Research Interests

  • Health Disparities
  • Global Health including Geospatial Influences on Health, Access, and Utilization
  • Aging Health Issues

Recent Honors and Awards

Federal Training

  • Butler-Williams Scholars Program (formerly: Summer Institute on Aging Research).
    U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. National Institutes of Health. National Institute on Aging. NIH Campus, Bethesda, MD. (2018 Class; July 30 – August 3, 2018)

Federal Awards

  • Recipient. National Institutes of Health (NIH) Loan Repayment Program: Health Disparities Research Award 2018 – 2019. Research Project: Rural and Minority Aging Research
    Funding Awarded: $35,000
  • Recipient. National Institutes of Health (NIH) Loan Repayment Program: Health Disparities Research Award 2015 – 2017. Research Project: Rural and Minority Aging Research
    Funding Awarded: $66,187.99

Non-Federal Awards & Fellowships

  • Recipient. 2017 Judy K. Black Early Career Research Award. American Academy of Health Behavior.
  • Recipient. 2016 Texas A&M Health Science Center, School of Public Health, Faculty Best Paper Award. Study: Geographic variations in access and utilization of cancer screening services: Examining disparities among American Indian and Alaska Native Elders. (Authorship: Towne SD Jr, Smith ML, Ory MG).

Recent Publications

Zhou Z, Mao F, Zhang W, Towne SD Jr, Wang P, Fang Y. (2019). The association between loneliness and cognitive impairment among older men and women in China: A nationwide longitudinal study. International Journal of Environmental Research & Public Health. 2019 Aug 12;16(16). pii: E2877. DOI PubMed PMID: 31408955. [2017 Journal Ranking: Q2; 2018 Impact Factor: 2.468; SSCI, SCIE]. +international collaboration

Zhou Z, Lin C, Ma J, Towne SD Jr, Han Y, Fang Y. (2019). The Association of Social Isolation on the Risk of Stroke among Middle-aged and Older Adults in China. American Journal of Epidemiology. 2019 May 31. pii: kwz099. DOI [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 31150041. [2017 Journal Ranking: Q1; 2018 Impact Factor: 4.473; SCI, SCIE] +international collaboration Note: 2018 journal ranking: 17th in “Epidemiology” by Scimago Journal & Country Rank

Smith ML, Towne SD Jr, Herrera-Venson A, Cameron K, Horel S, Ory MG, Gilchrist C, Schneider E, DiCocco C, Skowronski S. (2018). Delivery of Fall Prevention Interventions for At-Risk Older Adults in Rural Areas: Findings from a National Dissemination. International Journal of Environmental Research & Public Health. 2018, 15(12), 2798; DOI

Towne SD Jr, Smith ML, Xu M, Lee S*, Sharma S, Smith D, Li Y, Fucci Y, Ory MG. (2019). Trends in Geospatial Drivers of Fall-related Hospitalizations and Asset Mapping of Fall Prevention Interventions for Vulnerable Older Adults. Journal of Aging and Health. 2019 Jan 7:898264318822381. DOI

Callaghan T, Ferdinand AO, Akinlotan M, Towne SD Jr, Bolin JN. (2019). The Changing Landscape of Diabetes Mortality in the United States across Region and Rurality, 1999-2016. Journal of Rural Health. 2019 Feb 25. DOI

Ferdinand AO, Akinlotan MA, Callaghan T, Towne SD Jr, Bolin JN. (2019). Diabetes-Related Hospital Mortality in the U.S.: A Pooled Cross-sectional Study of the National Inpatient Sample. Journal of Diabetes and its Complications. May;33(5):350-355. DOI

Current and Pending Funded Projects

Co-Investigator. (PI: Chanam Lee; Wei Li; Marcia Ory).
National Institutes of Health (NIH)-R01
. Fighting Obesity by Reinventing Public Transportation: A Natural Experiment. Multidisciplinary research w/ Texas A&M University and the University of Texas-El Paso. Scored: Impact Score: 24 Percentile: 8. (03/13/2018–02/28/2023)
Awarded: $2,591,084

Co-Investigator. (PIs: Chanam Lee; Marcia Ory; Xuemei Zhu). Funding Source: National Cancer Institute of NIH—R01. Physical Activity Impacts of a Planned Activity-Friendly Community: The What, Where, When and Why of Environmental Approaches to Obesity Prevention. [2015–2020]. Aim: Examine environmental factors affecting the amount (what) and the spatial (where) and temporal (when) patterns of PA, and the underlying mechanisms (why) of such impacts, including potential mediating effects of the psychosocial factors. Multidisciplinary research w/ Departments of Geography, Computer Sciences, Architecture, and School of Public Health at Texas A&M University. Dr. Towne played a critical role in conceptualizing and writing this proposal with the 3 PIs. (09/25/2015-08/31/2020).
Awarded: $2,684,000. [R01]

Co-Investigator. (PI: Chanam Lee; Marcia Ory; Xuemei Zhu). National Institutes of Health (NIH)-Administrative Supplement: Dementia-Friendly Communities to Promote Active Living in Persons with AD/ADRD. (Parent Grant: Physical Activity Impacts of a Planned Activity-Friendly Community: The What, Where, When and Why of Environmental Approaches to Obesity Prevention). This administrative supplement is to understand the current living environments of community-dwelling persons with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia (AD/ADRD) and identify environmental barriers to and supports for their physical activity, social interaction, and independence. Role: Co-I. (7/1/2018–6/30/2019).
Awarded: $358,129.


Principal Investigator. (PI: Samuel D. Towne). Funding Source:
Administration on Aging and Administration for Community Living. Sub-contract from: United Way Tarrant County
. No Falls Partnership (NFP). The goal of the NFP project is to reduce the number of adult fall-related injuries and hospitalizations by increasing awareness, accessibility, and collaboration in providing fall prevention classes. (8/1/2017-8/7/18). Dr. Towne served as the evaluation expert for the sub-contract.
Awarded: $32,000.

Co-Investigator and Evaluator. (PI: Jane Bolin). Funding Source:
Department of Health and Human Services. Federal Office of Rural Health Policy
. Rural Health Research Center Grant. Addressing Rural Health Challenges and Disparities: Evaluating the Impact of Federal Policies on Rural Healthcare Access and Outcomes. (9/1/2016-8/31/2020).
Awarded: $2,800,000.

Professional Organizations

  • American Academy of Health Behavior (2015-current; Full Member)
  • American Public Health Association (2010-current)
  • Cancer Alliance of Texas (2013-current)
  • Gerontological Society of America (2014-current)
  • Institute for Healthcare Improvement (2011-current)
  • Physical Activity Policy Research Network-Older Adult Working Group (2016-2018)
  • RE-AIM National Workgroup (2017-2018)
  • Health Disparities, Education, Awareness, Research & Training Consortium (HDEART) Health Equity Scholars & Alumni Network (2018-current)