Michael Schoenbaum photo
“My time at PSC - at least as much as any other aspect of my training - helped prepare me for career responsibilities”

Michael Schoenbaum

Senior Advisor for Mental Health Services, Epidemiology, and Economics [C], Division of Services and Intervention Research, National Institute of Mental Health.

Ph.D. 1995 Ecomomics, University of Michigan

Personal Notes
I live in Bethesda with my wife, Elisa Rapaport, a graphic designer and public health educator; our children, Yael and Natan; and our beagle, Rosie. We remain close with other members of my PSC cohort who live in the area, and their respective families: Emily Agree, Scott Boggess, Laura (Duberstein) Lindberg, Suzanne Duryea, Ellen Kramarow, Tim Waidmann, and Brent Wolff (when he's on this continent).
Research Activities

Most broadly, I am interested in opportunities to improve health and health care at a population level. My  research has focused particularly on the costs and benefits of interventions to improve health and health care, evaluated from the perspectives of patients, providers, payers and society. One main focus has been to assess the feasibility and consequences of improving care for common mental disorders, particularly depression. I have also studied the social epidemiology and economic consequences of chronic illness and disability; designed and evaluated decision-support tools to help consumers make health benefits choices; and worked on international health sector development.

Honors & Awards

  •   US Department of Health and Human Services Hubert H. Humphrey Award for Service to America, for work on addressing the mental health needs of returning combat veterans (2009)

  •   National Institute of Mental Health Director’s Group Award, for work leading to the commission of a major study on suicidality with the Department of the Army (2009)

  •   Schoenbaum, M, et al., “Health Cost Calculator/Flexible Spending Account Calculator,” U.S. Patent Number 7,426,474, published September 16, 2008

  •   American Institute of Architects National Honor Award for Excellence in Regional and Urban Design (2006), for Suisman et al. (2005), The Arc: A Formal Structure for a Palestinian State, RAND MG-327, Santa Monica: RAND.

  •   RAND Gold Merit Award, for work on RAND’s Palestine project (2005)

  •   John M. Eisenberg Article-of-the-Year in Health Services Research (2004), for Miranda et al. (2003), “Can Quality Improvement Interventions Improve Care and Outcomes For Depressed Minorities?  Results of a Randomized, Controlled Trial,” Health Services Research 38(2):613-630

Career Milestones

I have had the opportunity to work on many interesting and important projects, but two really stand out:  RAND's Palestine Initiative, and the National Institute of Mental Health's Army Study of Risk and Resilience in Service Members (Army STARRS). The former, which started in 2002 and with which I remain connected, involved developing and disseminating an comprehensive nation-building plan focused on addressing the political, economic, social and environmental challenges facing a future independent Palestinian state. This project initially involved "traditional" policy research, but ultimately has involved very intensive and multi-faceted engagement with Palestinians, Israelis, and the international community to disseminate and contribute to the practical application of our research findings.

The Army STARRS project, which is currently my main professional focus, is the largest study of mental health risk and resilience ever conducted among military personnel. NIMH developed this study in partnership with the US Army, in support of the Army's ongoing efforts to prevent suicide and enhance the psychological health of its soldiers. Given the public health challenge that suicide represents across society, our findings from this study will benefit not only soldiers but the nation as a whole.

PSC's Influence on Career
The Palestine and Army STARRS projects are obviously very different, from each other and, in many ways, from much of my other research. (I also became involved in each somewhat serendipitously.) Still, I view both as exactly the kinds of work I hoped to do when I undertook my graduate training. My time at PSC - at least as much as any other aspect of my training - helped prepare me for the various responsibilities I have had across my career, in very tangible ways. This includes the disciplinary and substantive training I received, of course, but also my experience working with colleagues from other disciplines; as well as the training I received from presenting my work at internal seminars and external conferences, which PSC actively encouraged and supported (and other institutions in the university seemed largely indifferent to).
Memories of PSC
When I was at PSC, it was not yet part of ISR, neither organizationally nor physically - it was still on South University, in comfortable if not very luxurious facilities. In my experience, PSC was a nice place to work. On the plus side, reasonable facilities for the mechanics of research, plus lots of interesting (and almost uniformly nice) students and faculty to interact with; with the usual caveats about recall bias, the main minuses I remember were contraband cigarette smoke in one corner and a decomposing Economic Report of the President (!) in another. All in all, quite different from the stereotypical graduate school experience of working in isolation and without support or diversion.
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