Sara Bleich, Christian Happi elected to National Academy of Medicine

Sara Bleich and Christian Happi

October 11, 2023 – Two faculty members from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health—Sara Bleich and Christian Happi—have been elected to the National Academy of Medicine (NAM). Membership is considered one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine and recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievements and commitment to service.

Bleich and Happi were among 90 regular members and 10 international members elected during NAM’s annual meeting on October 9.

Bleich, professor of public health policy at Harvard Chan School, was chosen for her internationally renowned expertise on nutrition security and for being an advocate for health equity. Bleich is widely recognized for her leadership and policy-relevant research on the prevention of obesity and other diet-related diseases, food insecurity, racial inequities in the U.S., and advancing equitable policy solutions for change.

Bleich is currently serving as 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 Harvard Chan School to serve as senior advisor for COVID in the Office of the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and later as director of nutrition security and health equity for the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service. Bleich 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 a professor of molecular biology and genomics in the Department of Biological Sciences and the 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 tangible impact on infectious disease research in Africa.

Happi has established critical programs and made important scientific contributions to research on malaria, Lassa fever, Ebola, mpox, yellow fever, and COVID-19; led the effort to sequence the first full SARS-CoV-2 genome in Africa, which guided public health interventions; and is developing an early warning system that could stop the next pandemic before it starts.

During the Ebola outbreak of 2014-2016, he confirmed the first case in Nigeria and worked closely with authorities there to contain the spread of disease. He also helped develop rapid diagnostics tests for both Ebola and Lassa fever.

Karen Feldscher

Read a NAM press release: National Academy of Medicine Elects 100 New Members