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Kasisomayajula Viswanath

Professor of Health Communication

Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences

Other Affiliations

Professor of Health Communication, McGraw-Patterson Center for Population Sciences, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Director, Health Communication Core, Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center

Research

Dr. K. “Vish” Viswanath is a Professor of Health Communication in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and in the McGraw-Patterson Center for Population Sciences at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI). He is also the Faculty Director of the Health Communication Core of the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center (DF/HCC). Dr. Viswanath is the Associate Director of the Lung Cancer Disparities Center at HSPH. He is also the Leader of the Cancer Risk and Disparities (CaRD) Program of the DF/HCC. And he is the founding Director of DF/HCC’s Enhancing Communications for Health Outcomes (ECHO) Laboratory. He chairs the Steering Committee for the Health Communication Concentration (HCC) at HSPH and teaches health communication courses within this concentration.

Research Focus
Dr. Viswanath’s work, drawing from literatures in communication science, social epidemiology, and social and health behavior sciences, focuses on translational communication science to influence public health policy and practice. His primary research is in documenting the relationship between communication inequalities, poverty and health disparities, and knowledge translation through community-based research to address health disparities. His research is supported by funding from private and public agencies, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Background
Before coming to Harvard, Dr. Viswanath was the Acting Associate Director of the Behavioral Research Program, Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences at the National Cancer Institute (NCI). There, Dr. Viswanath was responsible for scientific and administrative staff and fellows, and oversaw extramural scientific developments in behavioral sciences at NCI. He was also a senior scientist in NCI’s Health Communication and Informatics Research Branch. He went to NCI from Ohio State University, where he was a tenured faculty member in the School of Journalism and Communication with an adjunct appointment in the School of Public Health. Dr. Viswanath was also a Center Scholar with Ohio State’s Center for Health Outcomes, Policy, and Evaluation Studies. Dr. Viswanath received his doctoral degree in Mass Communication from the University of Minnesota.

Boards, Associations, and Awards
In recognition of his academic and professional achievements, Dr. Viswanath has received several awards, including the Joseph W. Cullen Memorial Award (2014) from the American Society of Preventive Oncology for distinguished achievement in continued national tobacco control efforts, the Dale Brashers Distinguished Mentoring Award (2013) from the National Communication Association, the Outstanding Health Communication Scholar Award (2010), jointly given out by the International Communication Association and the National Communication Association, and the Mayhew Derryberry Award (2009) from the American Public Health Association (APHA) for his contribution to health education research and theory. Dr. Viswanath delivered the 23rd Annual Aubrey Fisher Lecture at University of Utah in 2009. He was elected Fellow of the International Communication Association (2011), the Society for Behavioral Medicine (2008) and the Midwest Association for Public Opinion Research (2006). He was the Chair of the Board of Scientific Counselors for the National Center for Health Marketing at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from 2007-2010. He has served as a member of three Institute of Medicine (IOM) Committees: Committee on Gulf War and Health: Treatment of Chronic Multisymptom Illness (CMI), Committee on Sports-Related Concussions in Youth, and Committee on Improving the Health, Safety, and Well-Being of Young Adults. He is also a member of the National Vaccine Advisory Committee (NVAC) of the U. S. Department of Health & Human Services and Chairs its Working Group on Vaccine Acceptance.

Professional Organizations

Dr. Viswanath is active in numerous professional organizations. He was the Chair of the Mass Communication Division of the International Communication Association and is a member and past President of the Midwest Association for Public Opinion Research. He was the Head of the Theory and Methodology Division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. He is the Chair of the Organizational Liaison Committee of the International Society of Behavioral Medicine. He is also a member of the American Association for Cancer Research, American Society for Preventive Oncology, the American Public Health Association, and the Society for Behavioral Medicine. He is a member of the Tobacco Task Force of American Association of Cancer Research.

Publications
Dr. Viswanath has written more than 160 journal articles and book chapters concerning communication inequalities and health disparities, knowledge translation, public health communication campaigns, e-health and digital divide, public health preparedness, and the delivery of health communication interventions to underserved populations. He is the co-editor of three books: Mass Media, Social Control and Social Change (Iowa State University Press, 1999), Health Behavior and Health Education: Theory, Research, and Practice (Jossey Bass, 2008), and The Role of Media in Promoting and Reducing Tobacco Use (National Cancer Institute, 2008). In addition, he was the editor of the Social and Behavioral Research section of the 12-volume International Encyclopedia of Communication (Blackwell Publishing, 2008).

For more information about Dr. Viswanath’s research, visit http://www.viswanathlab.org.

Education

Ph.D., 1990, University of Minnesota