Faculty News Winter 2024

Awards, honors, and activities

Faculty elected to National Academy of Medicine
Sara Bleich and Christian Happi were elected to the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) in October. Bleich, professor of public health policy, was chosen for expertise on nutrition security and for being an advocate for health equity. She is vice provost for special projects at Harvard, leading ongoing work related to the recommendations from the Presidential Committee on Harvard & the Legacy of Slavery. Previously, Bleich took a leave from the School to serve with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. She is also the Carol K. Pforzheimer Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study and holds an appointment at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Happi is an adjunct professor of immunology and infectious diseases at Harvard Chan School, and professor of molecular biology and genomics and director of the African Center of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases at Redeemer’s University in Nigeria. He was chosen by NAM for his important scientific contributions to research on malaria, Lassa fever, Ebola, mpox, yellow fever, and COVID-19 in Africa. Read more

Salata Institute funds faculty climate projects
Harvard’s Salata Institute Seed Grant Program, launched in April to enable new interdisciplinary research in climate and sustainability, announced its first cohort of awards in September. Two of the 14 funded projects are led by researchers from Harvard Chan School: Communicating benefits of climate action is led by K. “Vish” Viswanath, Lee Kum Kee Professor of Health Communication, and colleagues from the Graduate School of Education and the Faculty of Arts and Sciences; Decarbonizing healthcare systems is led by Stéphane Verguet, associate professor of global health. Read more

Mary T. Bassett, Francois-Xavier Bagnoud Professor of the Practice of Health and Human Rights and director of the FXB Center, received the Health Care Leadership Award from the United Hospital Fund in October. The award recognizes her leadership and contributions to improving health in her former roles as commissioner of the New York State Department of Health and of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Curtis Huttenhower, professor of computational biology and bioinformatics, is working with Hill’s Pet Nutrition to create the One Health Microbiome Resource, the first comprehensive database of human and companion animal microbiomes, the company announced in August. The databases includes microbial genomes, companion animal microbial community profiles, and tools to utilize them together.Read more

Sinéad Flanagan, a research associate in the Department of Epidemiology, was selected for a 2023 Prostate Cancer Foundation Young Investigator Award in September.

Nancy Krieger, professor of social epidemiology, received the 2023 Sedgwick Memorial Medal for Distinguished Service in Public Health from the American Public Health Association at its annual meeting in November. It is APHA’s oldest and most distinguished award and was given in recognition of Krieger’s activism and research surrounding health equity and social science. Read more

Francine Laden, professor of environmental epidemiology, was awarded the 2023 International Society for Environmental Epidemiology’s John Goldsmith Award for sustained and outstanding contributions to the field of environmental epidemiology. She is an environmental epidemiologist, specializing in the study of associations of chronic exposures to air pollution and neighborhood contextual variables with various disease and health outcomes. Read more

Rachel Nethery, assistant professor of biostatistics, was elected as a member of the International Biometric Society’s regional committee for Eastern North America. She began her three-year term in January. Read more

Stefania Papatheodorou, lecturer on epidemiology, was one of seven researchers selected for the 2023–2024 National Institutes of Health Climate and Health Scholars program. The program brings scientists from outside the U.S. federal government to work with NIH staff to share their knowledge and help build NIH capacity.

Vikram Patel, professor in the Department of Global Health and Population at Harvard Chan School and Pershing Square Professor of Global Health in the Blavatnik Institute at Harvard Medical School, became chair of the HMS Department of Global Health and Social Medicine in September. Patel, a well-known expert in global mental health, succeeded Paul Farmer, who led the department until his death in 2022. Read more

Henning Tiemeier, professor of social and behavioral science and Sumner and Esther Feldberg Chair in Maternal and Child Health, was a joint recipient of the 2023 Alzheimer Award from The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease for the paper he co-authored, “Loneliness, Not Social Support, Is Associated with Cognitive Decline and Dementia Across Two Longitudinal Population-Based Cohorts.” Read more

David Williams, chair of the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences and Florence Sprague Norman and Laura Smart Norman Professor of Public Health, served as the commencement speaker for the University of Toledo’s College of Medicine and Life Sciences in May, and was awarded an honorary degree (honoris causa) of Doctor of Science during the ceremony. Williams was also appointed this summer as a member of the American Medical Association Taskforce on Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation. Read more


Project UnLonely: Healing Our Crisis of Disconnection
By Jeffrey Nobel
Avery, 2023
Chronic loneliness was a public health crisis even before the COVID-19 pandemic. Jeremy Nobel, a lecturer at Harvard Chan School, has made loneliness-busting the focus of his academic work. In 2016, he launched Project UnLonely as the signature initiative of his nonprofit institute, the Foundation for Art and Healing. In this book he describes effective treatment protocols for loneliness and works to reduce the stigma around the condition. Read a review at hsph.me/hph-loneliness.

Appointments and Promotions


Olga Demler, assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology

Tianyi Huang, assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition

Jeffrey Imai-Eaton, associate professor of epidemiology

Rong Ma, assistant professor of biostatistics

Zachary Ward, assistant professor of health decision science



Jarvis Chen, senior lecturer on social and behavioral sciences

Rishi Desai, associate professor in the Department of Epidemiology

Julie Lauffenburger, associate professor in the Department of Epidemiology

Rebekka Lee, lecturer on social and behavioral sciences

Shoba Ramanadhan, associate professor of social and behavioral sciences

Andrea Schwartz, associate professor in the Department of Epidemiology

Mingyang Song, associate professor of clinical epidemiology and nutrition

Rishi Wadhera, associate professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management