HSPH’s Joseph Brain ends 40-year stretch teaching Harvard undergrad public health course

Joseph Brain
Joseph Brain

Joseph Brain, Cecil K. and Philip Drinker Professor of Environmental Physiology at Harvard School of Public Health, launched the Harvard undergraduate course “The Human Organism” in 1971 and has taught it for all but one year since. He will step down from the course at the end of the 2013 spring semester to devote more time to his research.

Brain designed the course to engage both scientists and students majoring in other disciplines, and updated it regularly to reflect current events.

“The context is that health really is a big deal. Whether you feel well or if you get certain diseases, it’s a huge part of our life, and it’s a huge part of the economy,” Brain said in a January 30, 2013 Harvard Crimson article. “I really want people to understand the determinants of health: of their own individual health, of the people of the United States, global health.”

[[Rebecca Betensky]], professor of biostatistics at HSPH, credits her career path to taking this course as an undergraduate. “It was really exciting for me to see some applications of math in medical and scientific research, so that really sparked my interest in biostatistics.”

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Department of Environmental Health

Department of Biostatistics

photo: Kent Dayton