While the term “public health” is likely to evoke thoughts of the health of a population, or of the outbreak of epidemic disease, the subject itself is frequently interdisciplinary, requiring research in sociology, political science, engineering and many other fields. Because public health refers to solving societal problems, the field often includes not only research and theory, but application of the learnings.
Professors involved in public health generally gear their classes and research toward public policy or politics, and they often act as experts and advocates about the issues they study, which can include the use of HIV treatments in sub-Saharan Africa as well as the impact of media on individuals during a disaster.
People on this list study not only how to cure the sick, but also how to prevent illness, improve the health system, and advocate for policy. The list features several faculty members at Johns Hopkins and Harvard universities as well as current or past advisors to the United Nations, United States Secretary of Health and Human Resources, and the World Health Organization.
Gonzalo Bacigalupe is a professor of counseling and school psychology in the College of Education and Human Development as well as the director of the Family Therapy Program at UMass Boston. He is a co-founder and and co-chair of the Boston Institute for Culturally Accountable Practices and was previously president of the American Family Therapy Academy. He served in leadership positions in the American Public Health Association, Society for Family Psychology and Society for Participatory Medicine. He tweets in Spanish and English about a variety of societal issues.
David Bangsberg is the founding dean of the Oregon Health and Science University-Portland State University School of Public Health, a collaboration between two Oregon universities. Bangsberg has long been involved in research related to poverty and HIV, including the use of treatment regimens among people in sub-Saharan Africa, which influenced international policy. He has served as director of Massachusetts General Hospital Global Health. He frequently tweets about local, national and international public health problems and solutions.
Sarah Gollust is an associate professor of health policy and management at University of Minnesota where she is a member of the Obesity Prevention Center and the Masonic Cancer Center. She studies factors involved in shaping public policy and how to translate health research for the media, the public and policymakers. Gollust is also associate director of the school’s Interdisciplinary Leadership Program. She frequently tweets links to articles related to health research and policy.
Bill Hanage is an associate professor in the epidemiology department at Harvard University. Through theoretical work and laboratory research, he has studied how infectious diseases evolve. He has consulted for the British pharmaceutical company, GlaxoSmithKline PLC as well as the World Health Organization. He tweets links to articles related to health policy as well as British, U.S. and international news and politics.
J. Brian Houston is an associate professor and chair in the Department of Communications at Mizzou. Houston is also director of the university’s Disaster and Community Crisis Center and core faculty in the Master of Public Health Program. His research relates to how communication and new media is used in community crises, such as natural disasters or terrorist attacks as well as how media coverage impacts individuals. He frequently tweets about national political issues and news, including President Donald Trump’s administration and changes at the Environmental Protection Agency.
Howard Koh a professor of the practice of public health leadership at Harvard University and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He also co-chair of the school’s Advanced Leadership Initiative through which he works with the schools of public health, government, business and others. After a nomination from President Barack Obama, he served from 2009-2014 as assistant secretary for health for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Resources and served as senior advisor to the Secretary of HHS during that time. He previously served as Harvard’s associate dean for Public Health Practice and director of Harvard School of Public Health Center for Public Health Preparedness. His tweets generally relate to national health issues, in particular addiction, mental health and the opioid crisis.
Martin Makary is a professor of health policy and management in the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, as well as a professor of surgery in the School of Medicine. He holds several leadership positions at the university, including chief of the John Hopkins Islet Transplant Center, clinical lead for the Sibley Innovation Hub and executive director of Improving Wisely, which is dedicated to lowering health care costs in the United States. He served with the World Health Organization Safe Surgery Saves Lives committee and led a workgroup to develop global surgical quality measures. Makary is also a public commentator in print and on television. His tweets often relate to health policy, such as medical overtreatment.
Diana Mason is a senior policy service professor at GWU as well as a co-director of the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement. Mason is also professor emerita and co-director of the Center for Health, Media, and Policy at Hunter College at the City University of New York. Previously, she was president of the American Academy of Nursing and editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Nursing. She tweets about national politics and news as well as health issues, such as the nursing shortage.
Elizabeth Matsui is a professor of pediatrics at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and also holds secondary appointments in the School of Public Health. Matsui is an international expert on environmental allergies and asthma, according to Johns Hopkins. She serves on the editorial board of the academic Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. Matsui is also principal and co-founder of the data science company Skybrude Consulting LLC. Her tweets mostly relate to health policy, in particular asthma and allergies.
After retiring in September 2017, Marion Nestle is a professor emerita of nutrition, food studies and public health at NYU. She chaired the Department of Nutrition and Food studies from 1988-2003 and is currently a visiting professor of nutritional sciences at Cornell University. She is a prolific writer, including six books, monthly Food Matters columns in the San Francisco Chronicle from 2008-2013 and an ongoing blog at FoodPolitics.com. Time Magazine, Science Magazine, and The Guardian named her Twitter feed in the top 10 in health and sciences, and she has been ranked among top foodies in the U.S., according to NYU. Her Twitter feed generally relates to intersections of food, nutrition, health and culture.
Andrew Papachristos is a professor of sociology at Northwesern Univeristy. He is also faculty fellow at the school’s Institute for Policy Research. Papachristos’ research relates to the spread of violence in social networks, including neighborhoods and street gangs. Along with academic journals, he has been published in Foreign Policy magazine. He often tweets articles related to criminal justice issues.
John Quackenbush is a professor of computational biology and bioinformatics at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. He is a researcher at the Dana-Farber Institute where he studies how to use genome-level data and other already available knowledge to understand biology, in particular how cancer develops and progresses. He Tweets links to articles about national political issues and also post about health sciences.
Paul Spiegel is Professor of the Practice in the Bloomberg School of Public Health. As director of the school’s Center for Humanitarian Health, he leads academics from public health, medicine and nursing programs as well as national and international non-governmental organizations in field research and humanitarian programs. Previously, he worked for the United Nations as deputy director of the Division of Programme Management and Support Services under the High Commissioner for Refugees and as Public Health and HIV Section chief. He often tweets about humanitarian issues and refugees, including the ongoing crisis in Myanmar.
Flaura Winston is a professor of pediatrics at Perelman School of Medicine at Penn. Her leadership positions at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia include scientific director of the Center for Injury Research and Prevention and chair of the Scientific Advisory Committee for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Winston is also co-founder and chief scientific advisor of Diagnostic Driving Inc., a company that spun off from the hospital to develop virtual driving simulations to improve road safety. Winston’s interdisciplinary research connects health, engineering and behavioral science related to child and adolescent injuries. Her tweets generally relate to public health and the work being done at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
Michael Yudell is an associate professor at Drexel where he chairs the Department of Community and Heath Prevention and is director of Program in Public Health Ethics and History. His writing has included The Public’s Health blog through the Philadelphia Inquirer as well as Race Unmasked: Biology and Race in the 20th Century (2014), which examines how scientists shaped research through their conceptions of race and the impact it has had on health policy and medicine. He tweets often relate to developments in health science and policy as well as politics and news.
Each of the members on this list has been chosen through research based on the following criteria: