David R. Williams: Race, Racism, and Racial Inequalities in Health


Monday, February 8, 2016, 12:00pm to 1:45pm


Harvard Kennedy School Allison Dining Room

David R. Williams, Florence Sprague Norman and Laura Smart Norman Professor of Public Health and Professor of African and African American Studies and of Sociology, Harvard University.

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About the speaker

David R. Williams is internationally recognized as a leading social scientist whose 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. He developed the Everyday Discrimination scale, which is one of the most widely used measures to assess perceived discrimination in health studies. 

According to ISI Essential Science Indicators, Dr. Williams 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. And Thomson Reuters ranked him, in 2014, as one of the World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds based on his scientific articles published between 2002 and 2012. 

Dr. Williams has been involved in the development of health policy at the national level in the U.S. He has served on the Department of Health and Human Services’ National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics and on eight committees for the Institute of Medicine including the Committee that prepared the Unequal Treatment report.  

With funding from the National Institutes of Health and the sponsorship of the World Health Organization, Dr Williams directed the South African Stress and Health Study, the first nationally representative study of the prevalence and correlates of psychiatric disorders in sub-Sahara Africa. This study assessed the effects of HIV/AIDS, exposure to racial discrimination, and torture during apartheid on the health of the South African population

He was also a key scientific advisor to the award-winning PBS film series, Unnatural Causes: Is inequality Making Us Sick?

See also: Spring 2016