David R. Williams, Ph.D., M.P.H., Co-Chair
David R. Williams, Ph.D., M.P.H., is the Florence and Laura Norman Professor of Public Health and Chair, Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. He is also a Professor of African and African American Studies and Sociology at Harvard University. His prior academic appointments were at Yale University and the University of Michigan.
Dr. Williams is an internationally recognized authority on social influences on health. The author of more than 450 scientific papers, his research has enhanced our understanding of the complex ways in which race, socioeconomic status, stress, racism, health behavior and religious involvement can affect health. The Everyday Discrimination Scale that he developed is one of the most widely used measures of discrimination in health studies.
He has received numerous honors and awards. In 2001, he was elected to the National Academy of Medicine and in 2007 to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has received distinguished contributions awards from the American Sociological Association, the American Psychological Association and the New York Academy of Medicine. He was ranked as one of the top 10 Most Cited Social Scientists in the world in 2005 and as the Most Cited Black Scholar in the Social Sciences in 2008. In 2014, Thomson Reuters ranked him as one of the World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds.
Dr. Williams has played a visible, national leadership role in raising awareness levels of the problem of health inequalities and identifying interventions to address them. This includes his service as the staff director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Commission to Build a Healthier America and as a key scientific advisor to the award-winning PBS film series, Unnatural Causes: Is inequality Making Us Sick? His research has been featured by some of America’s top print and television news organizations and in his recent TED talk.
He holds an MPH from Loma Linda University and a PhD in Sociology from the University of Michigan.