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David R. Williams Professor of Public Health and Profess of African American Studies and Sociology at Harvard University

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  • Creating Inclusive and Accepting Environments for All Our Children
  • How Social Policies Shape Health: Evidence and Opportunities

David R. Williams is the Florence Sprague Norman and Laura Smart Norman Professor of Public Health at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and Professor of African and African American Studies and of Sociology at Harvard University. His first 6 years as a faculty member were at Yale University where he held appointments in both Sociology and Public Health. The next 14 years were at the University of Michigan where he was the Harold Cruse Collegiate Professor of Sociology, a Senior Research Scientist at the Institute of Social Research and a Professor of Epidemiology in the School of Public Health. Dr. Williams holds an MPH degree from Loma Linda University and a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Michigan.

He is internationally recognized as a leading social scientist focused on social influences on health. His research has enhanced our understanding of the complex ways in which race, racism, socioeconomic status, stress, health behaviors and religious involvement can affect physical and mental health. The Everyday Discrimination scale that he developed is currently one of the most widely used measures to assess perceived discrimination in health studies. He is the author of more than 325 scholarly papers in scientific journals and edited collections and his research has appeared in leading journals in sociology, psychology, medicine, public health and epidemiology. He has served on the editorial board of 12 scientific journals and as a reviewer for over 60 journals. According to ISI Essential Science Indicators, he was one of the Top 10 Most Cited Researchers in the Social Sciences during the decade 1995 to 2005. The Journal of Black Issues in Higher Education, ranked him as the Most Cited Black Scholar in the Social Sciences in 2008. In 2001, he was elected to the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academy of Sciences and in 2007 to membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2004, he received one of the inaugural Decade of Behavior Research Awards, in 2011, he was the first non-white scholar to receive the Leo G. Reeder Award from the American Sociological Association and in 2013, he received the Stephen Smith Award for Distinguished Contributions in Public Health from the New York Academy of Medicine.

Dr. Williams has appeared on national television, including ABC’s Evening News, CNN, PBS, the Katie Couric Show, Al Jazeera, C-SPAN and the Discovery Channel. His research has been featured or he has been quoted in the national print media including the New York Times, Time, Newsweek, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, Essence, Jet and USA Today. He was also a key scientific advisor to the award-winning PBS film series, Unnatural Causes: Is inequality Making Us Sick?


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