Social epidemiologist Lisa Berkman is the Thomas D. Cabot Professor of Public Policy, Epidemiology, and Global Health and Population at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. She was appointed director of the HCPDS by Harvard Provost Steven E. Hyman in October 2007. Since 2017, she has also been serving as the faculty director of the PhD program in population health sciences at the Harvard Chan School.
Dr. Berkman was chair of the School’s Department of Society, Human Development and Health from 1995–2008. Recognized for her groundbreaking work in the field of social epidemiology, she is noted for identifying the effects of social networks on mortality risks that helped define the field in the late 1970s. Berkman also broadened the field with her investigations of how social conditions related to inequality, race, ethnicity, and social isolation influence health and aging.
Before coming to the Harvard Chan School in 1995 to head what was then the Department of Health and Social Behavior, Berkman was head of the department of chronic disease epidemiology at Yale School of Medicine.
A graduate of Northwestern University, Berkman received her master’s and doctorate in epidemiology from the University of California, Berkeley. She joined the Yale faculty in 1979 as an assistant professor.
She is a member of the Institute of Medicine, and serves as chair of the Board of Scientific Counselors of the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health. She is a past president of the Society for Epidemiologic Research and the Association of Population Centers (APC).