Sandro Galea M.D., M.P.H., Dr.P.H.

Dean of the School of Public Health
Robert A. Knox Professor
Boston University School of Public Health
Email: Discipline: Public Health, Social Epidemiology Expertise: Behavior Disorders, Consequences of conflicts, disasters, mass traumas, Population Health

Investigator Award
Understanding the Complex Causes of Population Health
Award Year: 2006 What really determines whether a population is healthy? Although our knowledge about biological processes, environmental conditions, and socioeconomic factors has expanded enormously, we are not yet able to put the pieces of the health puzzle together. For example, research on the rapid rise of obesity reveals a host of factors operating at many levels: our parents' weight, our income, the size of the food portions we eat, the availability of fresh produce in our neighborhoods, the advertisements we are exposed to, and so on. But what the research doesn't tell us is how much each factor contributes to the problem and which policy levers might work best to reverse specific diseases. Co-investigators at the University of Michigan, Sandro Galea, M.D., Dr.P.H., M.P.H. and George A. Kaplan, Ph.D. believe that new methods are needed to better understand population health and to produce scientific information that can be useful to policymakers. Their innovative project, Understanding the Complex Causes of Population Health, attempts to break new ground by using the theories and tools of complex systems to model how factors and conditions interact at many levels to produce health and disease.


Dr. Galea is Boston University's Robert A. Knox Professor and the current dean of the School of Public Health. In the past, he was the Anna Cheskis Gelman and Murray Charles Gelman Professor and chair of the Department of Epidemiology at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. Dr. Galea is a physician and an epidemiologist, who is interested in the social production of health of urban populations. His work explores innovative cells-to-society approaches to population health questions. His primary focus is on the causes of brain disorders, particularly common mood-anxiety disorders and substance abuse. He has long had a particular interest in the consequences of mass trauma and conflict worldwide, including as a result of the September 11 attacks, Hurricane Katrina, conflicts in sub-Saharan Africa, and the American wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and several foundations have funded his research. He has published over 400 scientific journal articles, 50 chapters and commentaries, and 7 books and his research has been featured in The New York Times, NPR, the Wall Street Journal, and many other media outlets. During Dr. Galea's tenure at Columbia, the Department of Epidemiology launched several new educational initiatives and substantially increased its focus on six core areas: chronic, infectious, injury, lifecourse, psychiatric/neurological, and social epidemiology. Dr. Galea chaired the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene's Community Services Board and sits on its Health Board. He was named one of TIME magazine's epidemiology innovators in 2006. He is past-president of the Society for Epidemiologic Research and an elected member of the American Epidemiologic Society and of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies of Science.

Honor Description
Member, Institute of Medicine, 2012