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Dean of the Faculty, Harvard School of Public Health

Barry R. Bloom, PhD
Dean of the Faculty
Joan L. and Julius H. Jacobson Professor of Public Health
Harvard School of Public Health

A statement from Dr. Bloom

“Our central mission at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) is to carry the banner of prevention to communities and nations. We wish to help the public understand the underlying reasons for poor health, and to implement prevention measures that will ensure that all citizens are born healthy and remain so throughout their lives. We are at once idealists and pragmatists. We see it as our responsibility to discover new ways to fight diseases before they take hold, educating our students in both the conceptual and practice bases for promoting society-wide changes when they leave the school.

“The major gains in health in the 20th century are attributable largely to the impact of public health and disease prevention rather than to medical interventions. Deaths from heart attacks and stroke in the United States have dropped by 30 to 50 percent. Smoking, which is estimated to be responsible for about 20 percent of all deaths in the country, has declined from 42 to 25 percent. Infant mortality in the United States has declined by 26 percent in the past decade and is at the lowest level ever. Vaccines have eliminated small pox worldwide and have reduced measles, rubella, tetanus, diphtheria, and meningitis in many countries to a handful a year.

“Unfortunately, the benefits of biomedical science and public health have not been made available to everyone. Much of the knowledge about individual risks that will be derived from mapping the human genome and modern biomedical science, as well as the resources to obtain the boutique treatments and preventions to overcome these risks, will simply not be available to the 85 percent of the world’s population who comprise the developing world. One can only hope that effective, safe, and affordable preventions and treatments relevant to entire populations will emerge.

“In developed and developing countries, cardiovascular disease, infectious diseases, psychiatric disease, cancer, and physical injuries are the major global burdens of disease and disability. The challenge for biomedical science and public heath in the coming century is to develop the population-based interventions needed to reduce these burdens.”

-Barry R. Bloom

Research Interests

A leader in international health and former consultant to the White House, Dr. Barry Bloom continues to pursue an active interest in bench science as the principal investigator of a laboratory researching the immune response to tuberculosis, a disease that claims more than two million lives each year.

He has been extensively involved with the World Health Organization (WHO) for more than 30 years and is a member of the WHO Global Advisory Committee on Health Research.

Dr. Bloom was elected President of the American Association of Immunologists in 1984 and served as President of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) in 1985. He has served as a member of the National Advisory Council of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Advisory Board of the Fogarty International Center at the NIH, the Scientific Advisory Board of the National Center for Infectious Diseases of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the U.S. National Vaccine Advisory Committee. He was an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

In 1977-78, he was a consultant to the White House on International Health Policy.

He received the first Bristol-Myers Squibb Award for Distinguished Research in Infectious Diseases, the John Enders Award of the Infectious Diseases Society of America in 1994, shared the Novartis Award in Immunology in 1998, and received the Robert Koch Gold Medal in 1999.

Since his appointment as Dean of the Faculty on January 1st 1999, Dr. Bloom has advanced public health through learning, discovery, and communication both at HSPH and around the globe. He has motivated a school wide transition to interdisciplinary research and evaluated the role of HSPH in Allston. Dr. Bloom also oversaw the creation of the Department of Genetics and Complex Diseases and the Department of Society, Human Development, and Health.

Dr. Bloom currently serves as Chair Emeritus of the International Vaccine Institute. He serves as a member of the Ellison Medical Foundation Scientific Advisory Board, the Scientific Advisory Board of the Wellcome Trust Center for Human Genetics, the Earth Institute External Advisory Board at Columbia University, and the United Nations Development Programme: Millennium Development Goals Working Group on Tuberculosis. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Dr. Bloom received his B.A. degree and an honorary Sc.D. from Amherst College, an A.M. from Harvard University, and his Ph.D. from the Rockefeller University.

Speeches and Presentations

Public Health Threats, Challenges and Triumphs in Asia

Inaugural Address

Political and Economic Implications of Infectious Diseases

This information was copied from on August 14, 2006