Painting of the people from Laura's Grandmother Artist - Carmin Z Simpkins

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As of: 09-12-2013

Laura S. Lorenz, PhD, MA, MEd - Biography

Laura is a researcher and educator with international experience communicating research, program, and policy impacts for global audiences. She is senior research associate and lecturer in the Institute for Behavioral Health, Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University. Laura has a broad work and research background in lived experience with chronic conditions, community-based participatory research, visual and narrative methods of research, military health, health policy advocacy, health communications, disability policy, and translation of research findings to community interventions and continuing education. Her current assignments include serving as a member of teams a) investigating payment incentives on patient adherence to medical treatment, b) studying the health of combat veterans, c) studying harm reduction for problematic drug use, and d) studying lived experience with transitions from skilled nursing facilities to community living for individuals with chronic brain injury.

Since 2004, Laura has been using innovative visual and narrative methods to include patient perspectives with health and healthcare in policy-making. She became interested in brain injury because her brother, who was a youth hockey player in the 1960s and 70s, had multiple concussions and suffered cognitive and mental health challenges—perhaps as a result. She is Research Director for Supportive Living Inc’s Brain Injury Wellness Center for Rehabilitation and Research in Lexington, MA where she works with a group of inter-disciplinary colleagues to plan and implement research to support the social, cognitive, and physical rehabilitation of individuals living with long term brain injury

Before coming to Brandeis, Laura worked 20 years in international development as a photo-journalist, writer, and editor for UNICEF, World Food Programme, CARE, the US Information Agency (USIA), US Agency for International Development (USAID), and Management Sciences for Health. She lived 14 years in Africa, Asia, and Latin America; her assignments often involved encouraging community partnerships, project replication, and behavior change—for example, to improve girls’ access to education and prevent transmission of HIV. Since 2001 she has pioneered the use of participatory visual research methods (including “photovoice”) in the US and South Africa to engage patients, youth, and communities in picturing local problems and strengths and motivating action for change. She has published in peer review journals in the fields of sociology, health, visual studies, and medicine.

Laura has presented and published on identity after brain injury, the patient-provider relationship, issues of voice and representation in health policy research, the use of visual research methods to involve communities in health, and visual and narrative methods of research and analysis. She teaches social policy and regularly leads trainings and continuing education workshops. Her book Brain Injury Survivors: Narratives of Rehabilitation and Healing was published in 2010 by Lynne Rienner Publishers under their series Disability in Society. She has peer review publications in sociology, health, visual studies, and medicine. Laura received her PhD in social policy from Brandeis University (2008) and a Master of Education (Instructional Design/Adult Education) from the University of Massachusetts Boston (2001). She holds a BA in English Literature from Bowdoin College (1976), and is a Certified Brain Injury Specialist (CBIS) from the Academy of Certified Brain Injury Specialists ACBIS (2010).

Dr / Prof Laura S. Lorenz:  Learn more about Laura by visiting the following sites.

View Laura's Curriculum Vitae for more detailed information. Please feel free to visit the other portions of the site listed below here as well, view more information about her work and what she is doing now.

Visit her personal website and see what projects, papers, presentations she has been up to by clicking here:


Other websites of interest

See Laura's Faculty Profile at:

Brandeis University - Faculty Guide: Bio

The Heller School of Social Policy and Management - Faculty and Researchers Guide: Bio

Schneider Institutes for Health Policy: Institute for Behavioral Health Faculty and Researchers: Bio


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