S V Subramanian

Professor of Population Health and Geography

Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences

677 Huntington Avenue
Kresge Building 7th Floor, 716
Boston, Massachusetts 02115-6096
Phone: 617.432.6299
Fax: 617.432.3123


Other Affiliations

Faculty Associate, The Institute for Quantitative Social Science, Harvard University


Ph.D. (Geography), 2000, University of Portsmouth, United Kingdom.

M.Phil. (Geography), 1993, Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi, India.

M.A. (Geography), 1991, Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi, India.

B.A. (Honours, Geography), 1989, University of Delhi, India.


S V Subramanian, (‘Subu’) is Professor of Population Health and Geography in the Department of Society, Human Development and Health at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH). He is also a faculty associate at the Institute of Quantitative Social Sciences at Harvard University and is a member of the Steering Committee for the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies, and Harvard Center for Geographic Analysis. He has a PhD in Geography from the University of Portsmouth, UK with specialization in multilevel statistical methods. His undergraduate and masters training was in Human Geography, with specialization in Urban and Regional Development and Planning from the University of Delhi. Subu was a recipient of the 1999-2000 MacArthur Leadership Program in Population and Development Studies based at the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies. In 2005, he received the National Institutes of Health Career Development Award to pursue research on the social and contextual determinants of health, with a special emphasis on asthma-related risk factors and health outcomes. In 2010, he received the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Investigator Award in Health Policy Research to pursue scholarship to understand the reciprocal association between neighborhoods and health from a lifecourse and intergenerational perspective.

Subu’s research focus specifically include:

  • Understanding the role of geographic, social and institutional contexts (e.g., neighborhoods, schools, workplaces) in explaining variations in health
  • Developing and applying multilevel methods to investigating the reciprocal and dynamic relationship between macro socioeconomic environments (e.g., income inequality, social capital, and neighborhood disadvantage) and individual health
  • Investigating the social determinants of health inequalities in India
  • Develop global comparative perspectives on socioeconomic and geographic axes of health stratification in different societies
  • Integrating intergenerational and socioeconomic perspectives to understanding variations in health and well-being

Subu has published over 300 original articles and book chapters in the field of social epidemiology, applied multilevel methods, health inequalities in India, and on cross-comparative assessment of social determinants of health.  His research has been published in high impact international journals including BMJ, JAMA, PLoS Medicine, The Lancet, Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, Pediatrics, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, International Journal of Epidemiology, American Journal of Epidemiology, American Journal of Public Health, Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, and Social Science and Medicine.  He has co-written a book entitled, Epidemiology: an introduction, and co-edited a book on Social Capital and Health.

Subu was amongst the first at Harvard University to develop a course on the concept and application of multilevel statistical methods, which he has been successfully teaching at the HSPH since 2001.  He has lectured and conducted workshops on multilevel models in Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, France, Germany, India, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, UK, and the US.  Subu has also co-developed a training manual to assist researchers in the concept and application of multilevel models using the MLwiN program.  In terms of mentorship, he has advised over 100 undergraduate, masters, doctoral and postdoctoral students and junior faculty as academic advisor or dissertation committee member or mentor.

Subu is a joint Editor-in-Chief of the international journal Social Science & Medicine, in addition to being a Senior Editor for the Social Epidemiology office of Social Science & Medicine.  He is also an editorial consultant to The Lancet, and an associate editor for the journal Economics and Human Biology. He is on the editorial board of several journals, including the Annals of the Association of American Geographers.  Subu has served as a permanent member of the National Institutes of Health Community Influences on Health Behavior (CIHB) Study Section. He is currently serving as a member on the Institute of Medicine Committee on Readjustment Needs of Military Personnel, Veterans and their Families. He has served as an external reviewer for all the major journals and for several major funding institutions in the US, UK, Sweden, New Zealand, and Canada.

At HSPH, Subu serves as a Vice Chair of Committee on Educational Policy, Director of the Prospective PhD in Population Health Sciences, and member of the Retreat Committee and Child Care Committee.  He is the former Chair of the Faculty Council and former member of the Faculty Information Technology Steering Committee and Committee on the Concerns of Women Faculty.