Boosting Junior Faculty in Public Health

Katherine States Burke
Katherine States Burke

The Burke Global Health Fellowship program has helped accelerate the careers of nearly 30 Harvard junior faculty in global health since its launch in 2009. Fellows receive one-year research or curriculum development awards through the Harvard Global Health Institute (HGHI), which is directed by Ashish Jha, senior associate dean and K.T. Li Professor of Global Health at Harvard Chan School. Burke fellows have gone on to earn tenured positions and research awards, start nonprofits, and advance research in areas ranging from malaria to child development.

See a list of Burke fellows, including the 2018 cohort

“My husband and I have made a variety of gifts to Harvard and other institutions, but this has been one of the most rewarding,” says Katherine States Burke, AB ’79, who established the program along with her husband, T. Robert Burke. The couple recently renewed their support for the fellowship, and they enjoy learning about recipients’ accomplishments at the annual symposium hosted by HGHI.

Burke fellows on the Harvard Chan School faculty include Jessica Cohen, the Bruce A. Beal, Robert L. Beal, and Alexander S. Beal Associate Professor of Global Health. She credits the fellowship with making her competitive enough to win a Gates Foundation Grand Challenges Explorations grant for her research on how behavioral economics could improve maternity care in Kenya.

“I’m impressed with the way HGHI is bringing people together across disciplines, and it’s great to be a part of it.” – Katherine States Burke

Katherine States Burke, a member of the School’s Board of Dean’s Advisors, is deputy director of the Stanford University Center for Innovation in Global Health. She began her career as a journalist writing about health care and medical education, and later worked on legal and consumer publications as a writer, editor, and publishing executive. More recently, she returned to her early interest in health and earned a master of science in global health sciences from the University of California, San Francisco.

The daughter and granddaughter of physicians, Burke has long been interested in finding solutions to public health problems. Her father, John Dunham States, MD ’49, an orthopedist who became track physician at New York’s Watkins Glen International racecourse, devoted much of his career to studying automobile injuries and passenger safety. His research and advocacy led to the passage of New York’s 1984 seat belt law—the first in the nation.

“He knew how to marshal people around a difficult goal. That’s very important in global health,” Burke says. “We deal with big, hairy problems that often require new ways of working. I’m impressed with the way HGHI is bringing people together across disciplines, and it’s great to be a part of it.”

—Amy Roeder is associate editor of Harvard Public Health.

Photo courtesy Katherine States Burke