Heather Gardiner

Director, Office of Community-Engaged Research and Practice
Associate Professor
Director, Health Disparities Research Lab
Community-engaged Research and Practice
Social and Behavioral Sciences

Bell Building, Suite 370
1101 W. Montgomery Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19122


Dr. Heather Gardiner is associate professor in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences and director of the Health Disparities Research Lab. Her research interests lie at the intersections of interpersonal health communication, chronic kidney disease, and organ donation and transplantation. She is the recipient of a Career Development Award from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality to develop and test an educational and communication skills intervention for patients with end stage renal disease who are awaiting kidney transplantation. She also serves as Co-Investigator on multiple federally-funded research studies to evaluate hospital development and behavioral communication interventions to increase solid organ donation and examine the ethical, legal and social issues of organ and tissue donation for transplantation and medical research/biobanking purposes. Across these areas of research, a primary goal has been to improve organ and tissue donation processes in the US and alleviate disparities in access to transplantation. More recently, she has partnered with the Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger to evaluate an ongoing effort to bring healthy food options to local food pantries and has begun a line of research investigating the relationship between food insecurity and medical nutritional management of Type II diabetes, a leading cause of chronic kidney disease. Her most recently funded project, Promotoras de Donacion: Leveraging Lay Health Educators to Increase Donor Registration in Older Hispanic Women (HRSA R39OT29878), will collect the formative data needed to design an educational and behavioral communication eLearning module for Promotoras (Hispanic lay health educators) and test the impact of the training on Promotoras’ knowledge of organ donation, confidence discussing and promoting donor registration, and efficacy increasing rates of donor registration among mature and older Hispanic women.


  • PhD, Communicaton, State University of New York at Buffalo
  • MPH, Social and Behavioral Health, Virginia Commonwealth University
  • MA, Communicaton, State University of New York at Buffalo
  • BA, English, State University of New York at Buffalo