Faculty Profile: Eric Rubenstein.
Faculty Profile: Eric Rubenstein
Personal and professional passions guide Eric Rubenstein, assistant professor of epidemiology, in his work improving the health of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).
“The IDD community has been my community for much of my life,” says Rubenstein, who has been a Special Olympics coach for 21 years. “This is a population that has co-occurring health conditions but also faces disparity and inequity that harm health.”
He points out that often, it’s overlooked that children with IDD eventually become adults with IDD, which is the reason his research centers on issues that impact the health of this community across the life course.
He is the principal investigator of a study evaluating pregnancy and maternal health outcomes in women with IDD. “For much of American history, it was legal to forcibly sterilize this population under eugenics laws,” he says.
Due to this history, little is known about pregnancy in this population. But as their civil rights advance, Ruben- stein says more women with IDD are expected to become pregnant and start families, so bringing disabilities into conversations about maternal health and pregnancy disparities is critical.
Rubenstein is also using Medicaid data to explore the link between Alzheimer’s disease and sleep apnea among people with Down Syndrome to gather population-level information about the community, which is often difficult to reach in a clinic.
“Among my friends and the athletes I coach, I have seen how the healthcare system can negatively impact their health,” says Rubenstein. “Translating the energy I get from working with the community and the community’s unique needs into my research has been a great part of my life and work.”
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