Judges

Abigail Silva, PhD, MPH

Chicago, IL

Dr. Abigail Silva is a trained epidemiologist with more than two decades of experience in both public health practice and research. She has spent much of her career promoting health equity in all aspects of her work, including teaching. During her career, she has published over 30 peer-reviewed manuscripts, authored six book chapters, and presented her work at national and international conferences. Dr. Silva has also meaningfully served both the research and local communities. 

Dr. Silva’s work has been funded by foundations, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the VA’s Health Services Research and Development Service. Her work encompasses three main areas: 1) inequities in care and outcomes; 2) the role of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on health care access, utilization, and outcomes; and 3) the COVID-19 pandemic in communities of color. Her contributions to health equity research include evaluating cancer-related care and outcomes and various causes of mortality. Toward the latter, she recently collaborated on a book titled, Unequal Cities: Structural Racism and the Death Gap in America’s Largest Cities, which highlights the need to focus on city-level data as a means of moving toward racial health equity and outlines a path forward by adopting a broader perspective that includes reducing structural racism and increasing community empowerment to improve public health research and policy.

Dr. Silva is also actively leveraging electronic administrative and medical record data as well as public health surveillance data to determine if the expansion of health insurance under the ACA has improved health care access and reduced racial/ethnic inequities. Her work related to the COVID-19 pandemic includes co-leading efforts by the COVID Equity Response Collaborative at Loyola (CERCL). This interprofessional collaborative of academic, community, public, and institutional partners catalyzed to reduce the harm caused by COVID-19 among at-risk populations by increasing testing and vaccination, supporting contact tracing efforts, and providing social support for those directly impacted by the virus. She received funding from the Walder Foundation as part of the Chicago Coronavirus Assessment Network (CAN) to provide free COVID-19 testing in hard-hit communities in suburban Cook County, biobank nasopharyngeal samples for emerging pathogen surveillance, identify (via questionnaire) possible transmission routes through social network and epidemiologic analyses, and conduct serologic surveillance of immune response through serial antibody testing. Additionally, she is a co-lead of the NIH-funded Chicagoland COVID Collaborative, part of the Community Engagement Alliance, which aims to share scientific expertise and conduct extensive community outreach that will enhance current and future COVID-19 vaccination, prevention, mitigation, and response efforts in Black and Latinx populations.

In addition to her active involvement in several University-affiliated committees, she also serves as a member of the Institutional Review Board for a safety-net hospital, a Commissioner for the Board of Health of a suburban village, and a regular manuscript reviewer for several journals.

Dr. Silva holds a Master of Public Health and a PhD in public health sciences from the University of Illinois Chicago School of Public Health. She also completed a post-doctoral fellowship in health services research at the Center of Innovation for Complex Chronic Healthcare at Hines Jr. VA Hospital where she still holds a partial research appointment. Prior to her academic career, she worked as a senior epidemiologist at the Sinai Urban Health Institute and a lead epidemiologist at the Chicago Department of Public Health.