Explore our Global Impact

Browse recent news by frontier and drill down into specific topic areas to learn more about the Harvard Chan School’s global impact.

How should we respond to a demographic shift that will change how the world lives, learns, and works? Harvard Chan researchers are digging deep into cellular mechanisms, analyzing statistical patterns across decades of health data, exploring how connection with others is protective, and tracking down other clues to healthier and happier aging.

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Program explores molecular underpinnings of chronic diseases

December 4, 2019—For many years, epidemiological data has shown a link between obesity and asthma. While researchers have long hypothesized that obesity increases the risk of asthma, why or how that risk is increased isn’t entirely clear. A recent study led by…

Introducing the Department of Molecular Metabolism

October 21, 2019 – The Department of Genetics and Complex Diseases at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health has officially changed its name to the Department of Molecular Metabolism. “After consultation with the faculty and academic council, we are changing the…

Social connections boost resilience among elderly after disaster

October 8, 2019 – In 2011, a massive earthquake struck off the coast of eastern Japan in 2011 and triggered devastating tsunami waves. Roughly 16,000 people were killed, more than a million buildings were damaged or destroyed, and hundreds of thousands of…

Q&A: Why Sex Matters (in Disease Susceptibility)

John Quackenbush, Henry Pickering Walcott Professor of Computational Biology and Bioinformatics; Chair, Department of Biostatistics Kent Dayton / Harvard Chan “In science, you have to turn over a lot of rocks to find truth,” says John Quackenbush. Recently, he and his colleagues…

Rising retirement ages pose challenges for individuals and governments

Governments around the world are raising the age of retirement, and this could spark significant challenges for individuals and societies at large, according to an August 20, 2019 BBC article. David Bloom, Clarence James Gamble Professor of Economics and Demography at Harvard…

To understand noncommunicable diseases, researchers look to inflammation 


Is inflammation a root cause of myriad noncommunicable diseases, including Alzheimer’s, cancer, arthritis, and asthma? A June 2019 Harvard Magazine article surveyed the evidence and profiled several researchers who have studied the role inflammation plays in disease formation. A number of researchers…

William Mair receives 2019 Armen H. Tashjian Jr. Award

May 15, 2019—William Mair, associate professor of genetics and complex diseases at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, is the 2019 recipient of the Armen H. Tashjian Jr. Award for Excellence in Endocrine Research. Brendan Manning, professor of genetics and complex…

Violence and trauma take many forms. Harvard Chan researchers are using scientific rigor to understand how damage to the body and spirit can be prevented, and develop ways to repair the effects of violence and build resilience in the future.

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Access to guns contributes to rise in teen suicides

A 50% increase in youth suicides in Florida over the past decade has been fueled, in part, by young people’s access to guns, according to a December 30, 2019 article in the South Florida Sun Sentinel. The article noted that guns—which play…

Does creating gun-free zones increase safety?

Some communities have designated certain public spaces, like courthouses and municipal buildings, as gun-free zones. But experts say there’s no conclusive evidence as to whether establishing such zones increases safety. A December 4, 2019 story on WAMU (Washington, D.C.’s NPR station) described…

Pervasive discrimination experienced by minority groups in U.S.

In a series of articles, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health researchers indicate that adults in several minority groups face discrimination in many aspects of their lives. In the midst of national debates on the extent of discrimination in the lives…

How a database helps prevent violent deaths

Data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) has been crucial in helping policymakers, health care workers, and researchers understand more about what leads to violent deaths, including homicides and suicides, and how to help…

Stephen Marks, Dyann Wirth named AAAS Fellows

Professors Stephen Marks and Dyann Wirth of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health have been named Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Marks, François-Xavier Bagnoud Professor of Health and Human Rights in the Department of Global…

Unraveling the lasting effects of PTSD on women

Women are more than twice as likely as men to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and roughly 10 out of every 100 women experience PTSD, according to news reports. An October 9, 2019 Washington Post article explored the impacts that PTSD…

Could recent mass shootings spur action to reduce gun violence?

The federal government has not taken steps to reduce gun violence in the U.S., even after a spate of mass shootings. But other entities—such as state governments, foundations, and corporations—may be spurred to take action, according to Harvard T.H. Chan School of…

PTSD linked to increased risk of ovarian cancer

For immediate release: September 5, 2019 Boston, MA – Women who experienced six or more symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at some point in life had a twofold greater risk of developing ovarian cancer compared with women who never had any…

Climate change is one of our greatest public health challenges—but also one of our best opportunities for global progress. Harvard Chan researchers are uncovering the human toll of our changing environment and crafting solutions.

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Climate change can harm both health and health systems

The warming planet could worsen health for patients with chronic conditions, lead to new health harms, and wreak havoc with health systems, according to an expert from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Renee Salas—an emergency room doctor, a Yerby Fellow at the…

Gina McCarthy fighting climate change at NRDC

Despite increasingly dire reports about climate change—rising global temperatures, melting ice sheets, wildfires, intense storms—Gina McCarthy says she intends to keep fighting against it. A January 13, 2020, Boston Globe column profiled McCarthy, professor of the practice of public health at Harvard…

‘The planet has a fever’

The last decade was the hottest ever, and 2019 was the second-hottest year ever, according to a report from two federal agencies. The annual global climate report from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) used data from thousands of…

A focus on news about the environment

The Australian bush fires, the politics of climate change, and sea level rise in Boston’s disadvantaged neighborhood were among the topics discussed in a new environmental news roundtable on the WGBH radio show “Under the Radar with Callie Crossley.” One of the…

‘Climate emergency’ is OED word of the year

The Oxford English Dictionary chose “climate emergency” as its word of the year for 2019, reflecting the hundred-fold increase in the phrase’s usage over the previous year. Gina McCarthy, director of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Center for Climate, Health,…

Ohio methane leak may have been one of largest in U.S.

A little-known gas well accident in Ohio appears to have led to one of the largest methane leaks in U.S. history, according to a recent study. Using data from a satellite that monitors the entire planet for methane leaks and emissions, the…

Public health leaders call for withdrawal of controversial EPA proposal

Letters signed by 60 public health school deans and program directors, including Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Dean Michelle Williams were sent on November 26, 2019 to President Donald Trump and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler expressing strong…

Children’s health especially at risk from climate change

Climate change is predicted to harm children more than adults, according to a new report from The Lancet. A November 13, 2019 New York Times article about the report noted that if fossil fuel emissions aren’t limited in the years to come,…

From fast food to no food, from the obesity epidemic sweeping the globe to social isolation and unhappiness, we’re still plagued by barriers to human thriving. The links between our health and how we feel, interact and live are complex and clouded. But thanks to the work of Harvard Chan researchers the path forward has never seemed clearer.

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Silica dust could harm health of Mass. commuter rail workers

Sand used on train tracks to improve traction could pose a health threat for Massachusetts commuter rail employees working in train cabs, according to a recent news report. A February 6, 2020 WCVB Channel 5 article described how corrosion in the sand…

Climate change can harm both health and health systems

The warming planet could worsen health for patients with chronic conditions, lead to new health harms, and wreak havoc with health systems, according to an expert from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Renee Salas—an emergency room doctor, a Yerby Fellow at the…

Experts welcome new federal funding for gun research

In December, Congress voted to approve $25 million for gun violence research. Experts hope the new funding will shed light on questions about gun ownership and the effectiveness of firearm policies and violence prevention efforts. The new funding ends what had effectively…

Addressing the opioid crisis: lessons learned from New York City

See Transcript [MUSIC PLAYING] DAVID LEVIN: You're listening to Harvard Chan-- This Week in Health. I'm David Levin. MARY BASSETT: Well, we've seen a real transition from handcuffs to help, and the idea that people who have problem drug use are people…

Launching a revolution

As California’s first surgeon general, Nadine Burke Harris, MPH ’02, is finding the roots of disease in childhood adversity and treating the long-term consequences.

Addressing the opioid crisis: unpacking stigma

See Transcript [MUSIC PLAYING] DAVID LEVIN: You're listening to Harvard Chan: This Week in Health. I'm David Levin. Today, we're talking about stigma and addiction. SHELLY GREENFIELD: Addiction itself doesn't discriminate. It's not about white or black or other ethnic or racial…

Identifying unmet health needs for adolescents in sub-Saharan Africa

January 27, 2020—Adolescents make up 23% of sub-Saharan Africa’s population, but understanding and meeting their unique health needs has long been a neglected area. A new series of papers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Africa Research Implementation…

Humans and pathogens are locked in a bitter arms race—and the pathogens are winning. They are evolving to resist our best medicines, and humanity’s pipeline of effective antibiotic weapons is empty. The next pandemic is a matter of when, not if. Harvard Chan researchers are fighting on many fronts to make sure humanity is ready when the next outbreak inevitably arrives.

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Response to coronavirus could shape legacy of WHO and its director-general

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, must navigate myriad political and economic factors as the agency responds to coronavirus outbreak, according to news reports. A February 10, 2020, Science article explored the challenges Ghebreyesus faces, and discussed how he’s…

Cancer symposium looks at new diagnostics for early detection

February 12, 2020 – Timothy Rebbeck kicked off the second annual Zhu Family Center for Global Cancer Prevention symposium on an optimistic note. “U.S. cancer rates have dropped dramatically. In 2016-2017, we saw the largest single-year decline in cancer deaths ever,” he…

Instagram remains a hotbed of vaccine misinformation

Leaders of the social media platform Instagram said months ago that they would take steps to curb the spread of misinformation about vaccines, but anti-vaccine content remains prevalent on the platform, according to news reports. A February 2, 2020 Huffington Post investigation…

Debating the transparency surrounding risky pathogen research

Experts are trying to figure out how much the public should know about experiments that could make pathogens, such as viruses, more transmissible or more deadly. Scientists conduct this type of research in order to better understand how viruses, like avian flu…

Can repurposing the drug ivermectin help control malaria?

Researchers are increasingly intrigued by the prospect of using ivermectin, a drug normally used to treat parasitic worms, as a way of controlling mosquito populations to drive down malaria rates, according to news reports. Regina Rabinovich, ExxonMobil Malaria Scholar in Residence at…

How so-called 'junk DNA' affects cancer risk

January 29, 2020 – John Quackenbush, Henry Pickering Walcott Professor of Computational Biology and Bioinformatics and chair of the Department of Biostatistics, is trying to understand how our genes influence cancer risk. In a recent research paper, he and his colleagues explored…

Keeping perspective on the coronavirus outbreak

News about the coronavirus that recently spread from Wuhan, China, has increasingly made headlines and filled news segments, yet epidemiologists and infectious disease experts are cautioning the public against panicking. “We don’t have evidence yet to suggest this is any more virulent…

U.S. sees largest single-year drop in cancer death rate

Between 2016 and 2017, the U.S. cancer death rate dropped 2.2%, according to new data from the American Cancer Society. The drop marks the largest single-year decline ever recorded. Among the factors attributed to the decline are reduced smoking rates and new…