David Williams

Dr. David R. Williams is the Florence and Laura Norman Professor of Public Health and Chair, Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. He is also Professor of African and African American Studies at Harvard University. His prior faculty appointments were at Yale University and the University of Michigan. He holds an MPH from Loma Linda University and a PhD in sociology from the University of Michigan.

The author of more than 500 scientific papers, his research has enhanced our understanding of the ways in which race, socioeconomic status, stress, racism, health behavior and religious involvement can affect physical and mental health. The Everyday Discrimination Scale that he developed is the most widely used measure of discrimination in health studies.

He was elected to the National Academy of Medicine in 2001, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2007, and the National Academy of Sciences in 2019. He has received Distinguished Contribution Awards from the American Sociological Association, the American Psychological Association and the New York Academy of Medicine. He was ranked 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.

He has played a visible, national leadership role in raising awareness levels of inequities in health and interventions to address them. He has served on multiple national advisory committees (including 10 Committees for the National Academy of Sciences), as the staff director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation 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 in the national print and television media and in his TED Talk.