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Mary K. Zimmerman, Ph.D.

Mary Zimmerman portrait
Professor Emerita, Population Health

Professional Background

Mary K. Zimmerman is Professor of Population Health, University of Kansas School of Medicine and also has served as Professor in the Department of Sociology on the Lawrence campus. She joined the KU faculty in Health Services Administration in 1982 after serving as Assistant Professor of Behavioral Sciences, University of Minnesota-Duluth School of Medicine. While on the KU Lawrence campus, she received the Outstanding Woman Faculty Award, the William T. Kemper Teaching Excellence Award and in 1990 was a Fulbright Scholar at the Institute of Occupational Health in Helsinki, Finland. On the Medical School campus, she was founding Director of the PhD program in Health Policy and Management (2009-2017) and served as the Joy McCann Professor of Women in Medicine and Science (2013-2016). She has held affiliate faculty appointments in the Center for Research of Aging and Disability Options, Institute for Policy and Social Research, Department of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Department of American Studies, and the programs in European Studies, and Global and International Studies.

Education and Training
  • BA, Sociology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
  • MA, Sociology, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
  • PhD, Sociology, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
  • Post Doctoral Fellowship, Cardiovascular Epidemiology, NIH Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute



Dr. Zimmerman’s research, both quantitative and qualitative, focuses on the impact of health and social policies and system organization on health outcomes and the experience of illness. A key part of her work concerns gender differences and inequalities in relation to medical and social care--specifically, research on women and families with various health needs and conditions. In 1996, she wrote the USDHHS white paper on medical education and was a delegate to US-Canada Forum on Women’s Health. She has specialized in Nordic health systems and for two decades led a study abroad class on health care in Sweden and Finland. In addition to income and gender differences, her research includes care work and community-based services for elderly, disabled and chronically ill populations, viability and local funding of rural health systems, and factors affecting the advancement of women in medicine and health administration. She has been invited for visiting professorships in Israel, Finland, Canada, and Costa Rica. She has authored two books and 60 published research articles and reports.