Engine of Change

This issue of Harvard Public Health features exceptional alumni who have, individually and collectively, made a tremendous impact on the field. I am especially inspired by the diversity of their disciplinary identities—a diversity that attests to the unmatched depth and breadth of a Harvard Chan School education.

Just consider the remarkable alumni profiled in this issue of the magazine—each of whom has mined the rich intersection of population and life sciences that is a hallmark of the School. Pediatrician Annie Sparrow, MPH ’04, regularly travels to and from the Syrian border to lend her skills and expertise developed in war zones to the medical personnel bravely carrying on under desperate circumstances—violence that daily dominates the headlines. Physician Monica Bharel, MPH ’12, who earlier in her career focused on homeless individuals in Boston, is helping lead the fight against health disparities and opioid abuse as commissioner of Massachusetts’ Department of Public Health. Yonatan Grad, who completed his postdoc here in 2014, is drawing on genomics and new computational methods to help stem antibiotic resistance.

Or consider our 2016 Alumni Award of Merit recipients. Dileep Bal, MPH ’71, while working in state government, devised brilliant strategies against deceptive tobacco industry marketing. Howard Dubowitz, SM ’83, revealed the widespread prevalence of child abuse and neglect and, through randomized controlled trials, has shown how these tragedies can be prevented. Richard Heinzl, MPH ’90, founded the first North American chapter of Doctors Without Borders and has envisioned how technology can improve medical care in the world’s most remote and conflict-ridden places. Here in Massachusetts, Carolyn Langer, MPH ’92, has exemplified public health leadership in her role as chief medical officer of MassHealth. Working around the globe, Joel Spicer, MPH ’06, has helped alleviate hidden hunger among women and children in vulnerable countries. And Carol Peden, MPH ’09, has launched quality-improvement projects that have boosted perioperative outcomes for high-risk patients.

These accomplishments across the broad spectrum of public health are both breathtaking and inspiring. The School will continue to have a tremendous impact nationally and globally in the months and years ahead, as the new U.S. administration considers its approaches to health, research, and human rights. Stay tuned to our website and this magazine for the latest updates on how our faculty, alumni, and students are addressing our field’s most urgent issues and reaffirming our commitment to fairness, inclusion, and the power of science as a tool for public good.

Of course, the School’s work wouldn’t be possible without the generosity of our donors, who facilitate the education of our passionate students and professionals. This issue of the magazine not only honors our donors but also details their contributions in our annual gift report section. As Dean and as an immensely grateful alumna, I would like to thank all of you who have supported the Harvard Chan School—with gifts that have underwritten professorships, new educational frameworks, and especially the financial aid that has enabled an extraordinary cohort of women and men to go out and change the world.



Michelle A. Williams, ScD ’91
Dean of the Faculty
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health