Dr. Lailea Noel is First-Ever Social Worker to be Awarded a Donald D. Harrington Faculty Fellowship

Assistant Professor Lailea Noel
Assistant Professor Lailea Noel

NYU Silver School of Social Work Assistant Professor Lailea Noel has been awarded a 2018-19 Donald D. Harrington Faculty Fellowship by The University of Texas at Austin to pursue her community-based participatory research on reducing barriers to cancer treatment and services for vulnerable communities.

The Harrington Faculty Fellowship was established at UT Austin in 2000 to support the research of gifted, ambitious scholars early in their professional careers. It is awarded annually to as many as five early career faculty members from universities around the world, who take a leave from their home institutions and serve as visiting members of the UT Austin faculty for the duration of the fellowship. This is the first time a social work scholar has been awarded the honor; as such, Noel will be a visiting faculty member at UT Austin’s Steve Hicks School of Social Work and participate in the school’s ongoing collaboration with UT Austin’s Dell Medical School LIVESTRONG Cancer Institutes.

“It is a privilege and honor to be selected as a Harrington Faculty Fellow,” said Noel. “I look forward to partnering with faculty at the Steve Hicks School of Social Work and the Dell Medical School LIVESTRONG Cancer Institutes, and to joining their ongoing work in oncology research, health social work practice, and research focused on the elimination of racial/ethnic disparities in cancer mortality rates. I am grateful to lend my experience and knowledge to engage communities from the culturally diverse Austin area in developing interventions to decrease barriers to treatment initiation and increase patient-centered care.”

“The Harrington Fellow is the highest honor bestowed on a visiting professor by The University of Texas at Austin. Having Lailea Noel as the first-ever social worker to be awarded this fellowship is a remarkable coup for our profession. It is also a testament to the quality of the Silver School at New York University and the Steve Hicks School at The University of Texas at Austin. We can all be proud of Lailea Noel’s achievement. Call it a win-win-win,” said Luis H. Zayas, dean of the Steve Hicks School of Social Work.

“We could not be more pleased that Lailea Noel has been awarded this extraordinary opportunity to advance her cancer disparities research in collaboration with the outstanding faculty at the Steve Hicks School of Social Work,” said Neil B. Guterman, dean of the Silver School of Social Work. “As an early career researcher, she has already made important contributions to our understanding of the influence social relationships and networks, geographic and social isolation, and community interactions with health care institutions have on treatment initiation and utilization. I look forward to the progress she makes as a result of this research fellowship year.”

Noel expects to work especially closely with Barbara L. Jones, associate dean for health affairs at the Steve Hicks School of Social Work and associate director of social sciences and community based research at the LIVESTRONG Cancer Institutes.

Noel’s research investigates the social and economic conditions that contribute to lower cancer treatment utilization and higher mortality rates in poor communities, particularly communities of color, and communities within residentially segregated urban and rural neighborhoods. She has a passion for conducting community-based participatory research and has a wealth of experience engaging communities, social scientists and medical professionals in such research partnerships. Her research interest and approach are informed by the two decades she spent as an oncology social work administrator at prestigious organizations including the American Cancer Society and University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center prior to pursuing her PhD.

During her doctoral studies at Washington University in St. Louis, Noel participated in a five-year, community-based participatory research project in an area with high rates of poverty and the worst cancer mortality rates in metropolitan St. Louis. Her dissertation work, supported by an American Cancer Society Doctoral Training Grant in Oncology Social Work, explored the experiences of African American women in St. Louis, who had not started treatment for breast cancer six-months to two years following diagnosis. Since she joined the NYU Silver faculty in 2016, Noel has established relationships with NYU Langone Perlmutter Cancer Center faculty and community partners.