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Public health researchers keep Indiana University on the global map of sexuality research

July 25, 2013

Sexual health expert Brian Dodge earned his graduate degrees from Indiana University Bloomington and then moved on for prestigious postdoctoral research fellowship and faculty appointments elsewhere.

But he was always interested in coming back to Bloomington, so much that in 2007, he left a tenure-track faculty position at the University of Florida to join the Department of Applied Health Science as an assistant research scientist -- in a position funded by competitive extramural research grants.

Brian Dodge

Brian Dodge, a researcher with IU Bloomington's Center for Sexual Health Promotion in the School of Public Health, recently was appointed as associate editor of the Archives of Sexual Behavior.

“I knew it wasn’t going to be easy -- that I would need to get funded or get out,” said Dodge, now an associate professor in a tenure-eligible position with a diverse portfolio of studies funded by National Institutes of Health and a range of other entities. “But for those of us who do sexuality research, Indiana University really is seen as ‘the top.’ I guess that says a lot about how much I wanted to come back to IU and to be part of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion.”

Dodge is associate director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion, which is part of the School of Public Health-Bloomington.

His research -- in places as near as Indianapolis and as far as India -- focuses broadly on sexual health among diverse and marginalized populations, with an emphasis on behaviorally bisexual men. He says that with the recent release of an Institute of Medicine report calling for comprehensive health research on diverse lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender populations, “we’re at the dawn of a new era in public health.”

“We have finally reached a point where we are able to declare the need for significant, innovative and balanced research on potentially a wide range of health issues faced by LGBT individuals, both positive and negative, aside from the traditionally heavy emphasis on risk, diseases, mental health disorders and the like,” Dodge said. “While it is true that disparities exist in terms of LGBT individuals facing specific and disproportionate health concerns, it is also the case that we need to understand their lives outside the context of ‘health problems.’"

Dodge is assuming leadership roles that place him in the forefront of this new era. He recently was appointed as associate editor of the Archives of Sexual Behavior, one of the top peer-reviewed international publications in the field of sexuality research. His work for the journal is expected to facilitate the peer-review process on the journal’s growing number of submissions on studies of health issues among gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men.

After more than five years of service on the editorial board, Dodge was recently promoted to the new position by the journal’s editor, Kenneth Zucker, psychologist-in-chief at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto. The Archives of Sexual Behavior is the official publication of the International Academy of Sex Research and is dedicated to the dissemination of information in the field of sexual science, broadly defined. In 2012, the journal ranked in the 95th percentile of the annual Thomas-Reuters impact ratings for social science periodicals, ranking first among periodicals classified as interdisciplinary in the social sciences.

“Dr. Dodge’s appointment to the position of associate editor of Archives of Sexual Behavior is an honor for our center and our school,” said Michael Reece, co-director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion and associate dean for research and graduate studies in the School of Public Health-Bloomington.

“It is a continuing mark of distinction for Indiana University as a global leader in interdisciplinary research on human sexuality, a tradition dating back to the days of Alfred Kinsey and his groundbreaking studies on sexual behavior. We are proud that our current IU faculty members continue this legacy by keeping their fingers on the pulse of sexuality research, education and training initiatives in high-impact activities such as this.”

Last fall, Dodge became chair of the HIV/AIDS Section of the American Public Health Association, one of the largest sections in the APHA. For more than a decade, he had been active in the group, whose membership also includes some of the top global HIV researchers and community practitioners from AIDS service organizations.

Dodge said he and his team at Indiana University have made a strong commitment to integrating sexual health promotion as a vital component of HIV prevention, treatment and care. His executive positions at Archives of Sexual Behavior and APHA will provide him with continuing opportunities for developing linkages across the fields of sexual science and HIV/AIDS research and practice.

The Archives of Sexual Behavior, he said, provides opportunities for researchers to showcase their research findings on sexuality-related issues that are often ignored altogether in traditional public health and medical journals. In 2008, for example, Dodge and his postdoctoral mentor Theo Sandfort, at the HIV Center for Clinical and Behavioral Studies at Columbia University, guest edited a special issue of Archives of Sexual Behavior highlighting innovative research on Black and Latino bisexual men.

“I look forward to continuing to work with Dr. Dodge and our exceptional editorial board team in the coming years,” Zucker said.

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