Meet the Acting Dean

Photo by Kent Dayton | Harvard Chan

[Fall 2015]

David Hunter, Dean for Academic Affairs at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health since 2009 and Vincent L. Gregory Professor in Cancer Prevention, has been named acting dean of the faculty for the School. He will serve until a successor is found for Julio Frenk, who, after leading the School more than six years, left in mid-August to become President of the University of Miami.

In a letter to the Harvard Chan School community on May 19, Harvard University President Drew Faust called Hunter “a deeply experienced and much-admired faculty member who has played an essential role in the School’s recent accomplishments.”

“I am looking forward to serving as acting dean, maintaining the momentum in our teaching and research programs at the School, and working with our department chairs and faculty to build on the progress that Dean Julio Frenk has made over the past six years,” said Hunter.

As Dean for Academic Affairs, Hunter oversees the major academic operations of the School, including the teaching programs, Academic Affairs—which includes Faculty Affairs, Student Affairs, and Diversity and Inclusion—and research strategy and development.

Hunter’s research interests center on the etiology of cancer—particularly breast, colorectal, and prostate cancers. His work focuses on genetic susceptibility to these cancers and on gene-environment interactions. He is an investigator on the Nurses’ Health Study, a long-running cohort of 121,000 U.S. women, and was project director for the Nurses’ Health Study II, a cohort of 116,000 women followed since 1989.

As for Hunter’s teaching contributions, he directed the Genetic Epidemiology and Statistical Genetics concentration in the Department of Epidemiology. From 1999
to 2005, he was director of the Quantitative Methods Concentration of the Master of Public Health degree. He was lead instructor for Managing Epidemiologic Data, Studies in Molecular Epidemiology, and Molecular Epidemiology of Cancer. In the fall, he will be teaching a HarvardX course, Readings in Global Health, based on a global health series he co-edited in the New England Journal of Medicine with former Dean Harvey Fineberg.

A 1982 graduate in medicine of the University of Sydney, Australia, Hunter earned an MPH in 1985 and an SD in 1988 from the Harvard Chan School. He continued on at Harvard with appointments both at the Harvard Chan School and at Harvard Medical School, where he is currently professor of medicine. Since the late 1980s, he has held a succession of leadership positions at the Harvard Chan School.

President Faust has convened a 13-member advisory group of the Harvard Chan School’s senior faculty, including several who have joint or primary appointments in other parts of the University, to aid in the search for a permanent dean. Faust and Provost Alan Garber also will solicit advice from Harvard Chan faculty, students, staff, and alumni.

Karen Feldscher is assistant editor of Harvard Public Heath.