Nicholas A. Christakis
|Nicholas A. Christakis|
May 7, 1962 |
|Residence||Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States|
|Fields||Medicine and Sociology|
|Institutions||University of Pennsylvania
University of Chicago
Harvard Medical School
|Alma mater||Yale University
|Doctoral advisor||Renée Fox|
|Doctoral students||Marcus Alexander, Jonathan Beauchamp, Virginia W. Chang, Peter DeWan, Felix Elwert, Danielle Harvey, Jack Iwashyna, Lei Jin, Mark Pachucki, Jessica Perkins, Ming Wen, Coren Apicella (postdoc), Sam Arbesman (postdoc), Jason Block (postdoc), Damon Centola (postdoc), Feng Fu (postdoc), Elizabeth Lamont (postdoc), Jukka Pekka Onnela (postdoc), Niels Rosenquist (postdoc)|
Nicholas A. Christakis (born May 7, 1962) is an American physician and social scientist known for his research on social networks and on the socioeconomic and biosocial determinants of behavior, health, and longevity. He is a Professor of Medical Sociology in the Department of Health Care Policy and a Professor of Medicine in the Department of Medicine at Harvard Medical School; a Professor of Sociology in the Department of Sociology in the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences; and an Attending Physician at the Harvard-affiliated Mt. Auburn Hospital.
In 2009, Christakis and his wife, Erika Christakis, were appointed Co-Masters of Pforzheimer House, one of Harvard's twelve residential houses. At Harvard, Christakis is also known for his popular undergraduate lecture class "Life and Death in the USA" which is podcast publicly, and for attracting a diverse group of faculty and students from across the University's departments and professional schools into his research group.
In 2009 and again in 2010, Christakis was named by Foreign Policy magazine to its list of top global thinkers. In 2009, he was named to the Time 100, Time magazine's list of the 100 most influential people in the world.
He was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences in 2006, and he was named a Fellow at the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2010.
Education and early career 
Christakis started his education and academic career in science and medicine. He received his B.S. in Biology from Yale University in 1984, where he ranked top among seniors majoring in the sciences, winning Yale's prestigious Chittenden Prize at the University Commencement. He then moved to Cambridge, MA, where he received an M.D. from Harvard Medical School and an M.P.H. from the Harvard School of Public Health in 1989.
In 1989, Christakis moved to Philadelphia, PA, where he completed a residency in Internal Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania Health System and then obtained a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Pennsylvania. While at the Penn as a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar, he worked with Renee C. Fox, a distinguished American medical sociologist; other members of his dissertation committee were methodologist Paul Allison and physician Sankey Williams. Christakis studied the role of prognosis in medical thought and practice, documenting and explaining how physicians are socialized to avoid making prognoses. He argued that the prognoses patients receive even from the best-trained American doctors are driven not only by professional norms but also by religious, moral, and even quasi-magical beliefs (such as the "self-fulfilling prophecy").
Upon graduating in 1995, he was recruited by the University of Chicago, where he started as an Assistant Professor with joint appointments in Departments of Sociology and Medicine. Six years after arriving at Chicago, Christakis was awarded tenure in both Sociology and Medicine. However, in 2001, Christakis left the University of Chicago to take up a position as Professor of Medical Sociology at Harvard Medical School; in 2005, he was also appointed as Professor of Sociology in the Harvard Department of Sociology; and, in 2009, he was appointed as Professor of Medicine in the Department of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.
Nicholas Christakis uses quantitative methods (e.g., mathematical models of network formation and stastical analysis of large observational studies) to study social networks and other social factors that affect health. His work has spanned the fields of demography, sociology, sociobiology, behavior genetics, and network science. He is an author or editor of four books, more than 120 peer-reviewed academic articles, and numerous editorials in national and international publications.
Christakis attracted international media attention in 2007 with the publication in the New England Journal of Medicine of the results of a study in Framingham, MA, which showed that obesity can spread from a person to person, through social networks much like a virus during an epidemic.
Over the next few years, working with a former Harvard graduate student and now Professor at UCSD, James H. Fowler, and a team of researchers in his Harvard Medical School group, Christakis published a series of articles arguing that social networks can transmit not only obesity but also other health states and behaviors, including smoking, drinking and happiness. The Christakis Group at Harvard Medical School has been supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and by the Pioneer Program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and by other funders. In a TED talk , Christakis summarizes the broader implications of the role of networks in human activity.
In 2009, his group extended the study of social networks to genetics, publishing in Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences a finding that social network position may be partially heritable, and specifically that an increase in twins' shared genetic material corresponds to differences in their social networks. And in 2011, Fowler and Christakis published a follow-up paper on "Correlated Genotypes in Friendship Networks" in PNAS. In 2012, in a paper in Nature, the group analyzed the social networks of the Hadza hunter gatherers, showing that human social network structure has ancient origins. Christakis and Fowler (and others) have argued that social networks are deeply related to human cooperation.
In 2010, Christakis and Fowler published a paper (based on the spread of H1N1 in Harvard College in 2009) regarding the use of social networks as 'sensors' for forecasting epidemics (of germs and other phenomena), beginning a program of research to deploy social networks to improve health and health care. In another TED talk , Christakis describes this effort and computational social science more generally.
Christakis's first book, Death Foretold: Prophecy and Prognosis in Medical Care, was published by the University of Chicago Press in 1999.
Along with James Fowler, Christakis is the author of Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives, published in September 2009. It was awarded the "Books for a Better Life" Award in 2010. Connected draws on previously published and unpublished studies and makes several new conclusions about the influence of social networks on human health and behavior. In Connected, Christakis and Fowler put forward their "Three Degrees of Influence" rule about human behavior, which theorizes that each person's individual social influence can stretch roughly three degrees before it fades out.
Clinical activities 
Nicholas Christakis trained as a general internist. He completed his residency in 1991 at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. He was certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine in 1993. Before coming to Boston, Christakis was a home hospice physician, taking care of home-bound, dying patients. In Boston, from 2002 to 2006, Christakis worked as an attending physician on the Palliative Medicine Consult Service at Massachusetts General Hospital. In 2006, he moved to Mt. Auburn Hospital, a Harvard teaching hospital in Cambridge, MA, where he serves as an attending physician in the Department of Medicine.
Selected writings 
- Christakis, NA; Fowler, JH (26 July 2007). "The Spread of Obesity in a Large Social Network Over 32 Years" (PDF). New England Journal of Medicine 357 (4): 370–379. doi:10.1056/NEJMsa066082. PMID 17652652.
- Christakis, NA; Fowler, JH (22 May 2008). "Quitting in Droves: Collective Dynamics of Smoking Behavior in a Large Social Network" (PDF). New England Journal of Medicine 358 (21): 2249–2258. doi:10.1056/NEJMsa0706154. PMC 2822344. PMID 18499567.
- Fowler, J. H; Christakis, N. A (3 January 2009). "The Dynamic Spread of Happiness in a Large Social Network" (PDF). British Medical Journal 337 (768): a2338. doi:10.1136/bmj.a2338. PMC 2600606. PMID 19056788.
- Fowler, JH; Dawes, CT; Christakis, NA (10 February 2009). "Model of genetic variation in human social networks" (PDF). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 106 (6): 1720–1724. doi:10.1073/pnas.0806746106. PMC 2644104. PMID 19171900.
- Fowler, JH; Christakis, NA (March 2010). "Cooperative Behavior Cascades in Human Social Networks" (PDF). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 107 (12): 5334–8. doi:10.1073/pnas.0913149107. PMC 2851803. PMID 20212120.
- Christakis, NA; Fowler, JH (September 2010). "Social Network Sensors for Early Detection of Contagious Outbreaks" (PDF). PLoS ONE 5 (9): e12948. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0012948. PMC 2939797. PMID 20856792.
- Fowler, JH; Settle, JE; Christakis, NA (January 2011). "Correlated Genotypes in Friendship Networks" (PDF). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 108 (5): 1993–7. doi:10.1073/pnas.1011687108. PMC 3033315. PMID 21245293.
- Rand, D; Arbesman, S; Christakis, NA (November 2011). "Dynamic Social Networks Promote Cooperation in Experiments with Humans" (PDF). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 108 (48): 19193–8. doi:10.1073/pnas.1108243108. PMC 3228461. PMID 22084103.
- Apicella, CL; Marlowe, FW; Fowler, JH; Christakis, NA (January 2012). "Social Networks and Cooperation in Hunter-Gatherers" (PDF). Nature 481 (7382): 497–501. doi:10.1038/nature10736. PMID 22281519.
Bereavement, Caregiver Burden, Marriage and Health
- Christakis, NA; Allison, PD (February 2006). "Mortality After the Hospitalization of a Spouse" (PDF). New England Journal of Medicine 354 (7): 719–730. doi:10.1056/NEJMsa050196. PMID 16481639.
- Elwert, F; Christakis, NA (February 2006). "Widowhood and Race" (PDF). ASR: American Sociological Review 71 (1): 16–41.
- Elwert, F; Christakis, NA (November 2008). "The Effect of Widowhood on Mortality by the Causes of Death of Both Spouses" (PDF). American Journal of Public Health 98 (11): 2092–2098. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2007.114348. PMC 2636447. PMID 18511733.
- Christakis, NA (1999). "Death Foretold: Prophecy and Prognosis in Medical Care". University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-10471-3.
- Alexander, M; Christakis, N (July 2008). "Bias and Asymmetric Loss in Expert Forecasts: A Study of Physician Prognostic Behavior with Respect to Patient Survival" (PDF). Journal of Health Economics 27 (4): 1095–1108. doi:10.1016/j.jhealeco.2008.02.011. PMID 18539349.
- Lee, DS; Park, J; Kay, KA; Christakis, NA; Oltvai, ZN; Barabási, AL (July 2008). "The implications of human metabolic network topology for disease comorbidity" (PDF). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 105 (29): 9880–9885. doi:10.1073/pnas.0802208105. PMC 2481357. PMID 18599447.
- Hidalgo, CA; Blumm, N; Barabasi, AL; Christakis, NA (April 2009). "A Dynamic Network Approach for the Study of Human Phenotypes" (PDF). In Meyers, Lauren Ancel. PLoS Computational Biology 5 (4): e1000353. doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1000353. PMC 2661364. PMID 19360091.
- Edge, The Third Culture
- Nicholas Christakis's Page at Harvard Medical School
- Bita M. Asad and Ahmed Mabruk, "Christakises To Be Pfoho House Masters," The Harvard Crimson, February 17, 2009.
- "Foreign Policy Magazine"
- Dan Ariely, "Time 100," Time Magazine.
- http://www.ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/_w_articles_wsite4_1_22/05/2009_372658 "The Greek-American scientist talked to Kathimerini English Edition, explaining, among other things, why we shouldn’t quite expect the ripple effect to reach our office cubicles."
- N.A. Christakis and J.H. Fowler, "The Spread of Obesity in a Large Social Network Over 32 Years," New England Journal of Medicine 357(4): 370-379 (July 2007)
- Gina Kolata, "Study Says Obesity Can Be Contagious," The New York Times, July 25, 2007.>
- N.A. Christakis and J.H. Fowler, "The Collective Dynamics of Smoking in a Large Social Network," New England Journal of Medicine, 358(21): 2249-2258 (May 2008)
- Gina Kolata, "Study Finds Big Social Factor in Quitting Smoking," The New York Times, May 22, 2008.
- J.N. Rosenquist, J. Murabito, J.H. Fowler, and N.A. Christakis, "The Spread of Alcohol Consumption Behavior in a Large Social Network," Annals of Internal Medicine 152(7): 426-433 (April 2010)
- J.H. Fowler and N.A. Christakis, "The Dynamic Spread of Happiness in a Large Social Network: Longitudinal Analysis Over 20 Years in the Framingham Heart Study," British Medical Journal 2008; 337: a2338
- J.H. Fowler, C.T. Dawes, and N.A. Christakis, "Model of Genetic Variation in Human Social Networks," Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 106(6): 1720-1724
- J.H. Fowler, J.E. Settle, and N.A. Christakis, "Correlated Genotypes in Friendship Networks," Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (January 2011)
- C.L. Apicella, F.W. Marlowe, J.H. Fowler, and N.A. Christakis, "Social Networks and Cooperation in Hunter-Gatherers," Nature (January 2012)
- J.H. Fowler and N.A. Christakis, "Cooperative Behavior Cascades in Social Networks," Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (March 2010)
- D. Rand, S. Arbesman, and N.A. Christakis, "Dynamic Social Networks Promote Cooperation in Experiments with Humans," Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (November 2011)
- N.A. Christakis and J.H. Fowler, "Social Network Sensors for Early Detection of Contagious Outbreaks," PLoS ONE 5(9): e12948. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0012948
- Gina Kolata, "A CONVERSATION WITH: NICHOLAS CHRISTAKIS; A Doctor With a Cause: 'What's My Prognosis?'", The New York Times, November 28, 2000.
- http://www.connectedthebook.com/ J.H. Fowler and N.A. Christakis, "Connected the Book" official website
- http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/books_9780316036146.htm "Hachette Book Group Website"
- Clive Tomson, "Is Happiness Catching," The New York Times, September 14, 2009.
- P. Clare and N.A. Christakis, eds., Prognosis in Advanced Cancer, Oxford University Press, 2008, ISBN 978-0-19-853022-0
- G. Hanks, N. Cherny, S. Kassa, R. Portenoy, N.A. Christakis, and M. Fallon, eds., Oxford Textbook of Palliative Medicine, 4th ed., Oxford University Press, 2009, ISBN 978-0-19-969314-6