“What Should We Talk About When We Talk About Health?”

Sandro Galea, M.D. | Boston University
Tuesday, January 30, 2018 - 7:00pm to 8:00pm


Science for the Public: Science Literacy Lecture Series
Lecture - 7-7:30PM | Q&A - 7:30-8PM

This series is hosted by Science for the Public - a grassroots nonprofit organization committed to improving public understanding of, and appreciation for, science. Visit the Science for the Public website for science info and for videos of other programs featuring outstanding scientists.

Speaker: Sandro Galea, M.D. | Robert A Knox Professor and Dean of School of Public Health | Boston University

Why do we care so much about health, spend so much money on it, and yet do worse at it than essentially any other peer country? Why have we been spending ever more on health and getting ever less healthy as a country? It is, at heart, because we are thinking about our health the wrong way. We keep thinking that to improve our health we can focus only on me, on the individual. And therefore, if only I took care of my lifestyle, and I invested enough money to make sure I have the right medicine when I need it, I am going to be healthier and life longer. And that is the wrong approach. If we want to make sure we promote health, we need to look beyond medicine, beyond how we can make ourselves better once we are already sick and think carefully about the forces around us that create a healthy world. We need to understand the aspects of the world that can genuinely get us on the path towards healthy living and keep us there. And to do so we need to talk about some very different things than we talk about right now when we talk about health. We need to talk about money, power, politics, pain and pleasure, what we value, how we live, and about where we live. We need to change our script on health. This presentation is a step in that direction.

About the Speaker

Dr. Galea is a physician and an epidemiologist. He is the Robert A. Knox Professor and Dean at the Boston University School of Public Health. Prior to his appointment at Boston University, Dr Galea served as the Gelman Professor and Chair of the Department of Epidemiology at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. He previously held academic and leadership positions at the University of Michigan and at the New York Academy of Medicine. In his scholarship, Dr Galea is centrally interested in the social production of health of urban populations, with a focus 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. This work has been principally funded by the National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and several foundations. He has published over 650 scientific journal articles, 50 chapters, and 12 books and his research has been featured extensively in current periodicals and newspapers. His latest book, co-authored with Dr Katherine Keyes, is Population Health Science, was published by Oxford University Press in 2016. Dr Galea has a medical degree from the University of Toronto, and graduate degrees from Harvard University and Columbia University; he has an honorary doctorate from the University of Glasgow. He was named one of TIME magazine’s epidemiology innovators and has been listed by Thomson Reuters as one of the “World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds” for the Social Sciences.

He is past-president of the Society for Epidemiologic Research and an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine and of the American Epidemiological Society. Dr Galea has received several lifetime achievement awards for this research, including the Rema Lapouse Award from the American Public Health Association and the Robert S Laufer Award from the International Society for Traumatic Stress. He is a regular contributor to Fortune magazine and has published widely in lay press including in the Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review, the Boston Globe, and The New York Times. His research has been cited in these journals and in BBC, Slate, WBUR, and NPR, among others. Dr Galea serves frequently on advisory groups to national and international organizations. He currently serves on the Advisory Council on Minority Health and Health Disparities and has formerly served as chair of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s Community Services Board and as member of its Health Board.

For scientists interested in sharing their work, please contact Yvonne Stapp (yvonne@scienceforthepublic.org).