David R. Williams (professor)

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David R. Williams
David Rudyard Williams

(1954-06-12) June 12, 1954 (age 64)
Aruba raised in St.Lucia
Alma materLoma Linda University (M.P.H., 1981)
University of Michigan (Ph.D., 1986)
Known forResearch on race and health
Awards2004 Decade of Behavior Research Award
Scientific career
public health
InstitutionsHarvard School of Public Health
Harvard University
University of Michigan
Yale University
ThesisSocioeconomic Differentials in Health: The Role of Psychosocial Factors (1986)

David Rudyard Williams (born 1954 in Aruba)[1] is the Florence Sprague Norman and Laura Smart Norman Professor of Public Health at the Harvard School of Public Health, as well as a Professor of African and African American Studies and of Sociology at Harvard University.


Williams holds an MPH from Loma Linda University and a PhD in sociology from the University of Michigan.[2]


For the first six years of his career, Williams taught at Yale University, where he held appointments in both sociology and public health. For 14 years after that, he was on the faculty of the University of Michigan, where his positions included Harold Cruse Collegiate Professor of Sociology, a Senior Research Scientist at the Institute of Social Research, and a Professor of Epidemiology in the School of Public Health.[2] He joined Harvard in the summer of 2006 as the Norman Professor of Public Health.[3] He was a senior research advisor for the PBS documentary series "Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick". His TED Talk entitled "How Racism Makes Us Sick" has been translated into 18 languages and has been viewed over 1 million times.


Williams' research focuses on how social factors such as education, income, and race affect physical and mental health.[3][4][5] He is also known for his research on the health effects of racial discrimination.[6]

Honors and awards[edit]

In 2001, Williams was elected a member of the National Academy of Medicine, and in 2007, he became a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2004, he was a recipient of one of the inaugural Decade of Behavior Research Awards.[7] He is also a member of the American Sociological Association,[8] the American Public Health Association, and the American Psychological Association.[9] In 2009, he was named the most highly cited black scholar in the social sciences by the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education.[10]


  1. ^ "David Rudyard Williams". Library of Congress. Retrieved 12 May 2016.
  2. ^ a b "David R. Williams". Harvard School of Public Health. Retrieved 12 May 2016.
  3. ^ a b "David Williams". Harvard Magazine. May 2007. Retrieved 12 May 2016.
  4. ^ "Poorer mental health for black Caribbeans". UPI. 5 January 2007. Retrieved 12 May 2016.
  5. ^ "The costs of inequality: Faster lives, quicker deaths". Harvard Gazette. 2016-03-14. Retrieved 2017-10-06.
  6. ^ "Racism Is Literally Bad For Your Health". NPR. 2017-10-28. Retrieved 2018-04-12.
  7. ^ "David R. Williams". Scholars at Harvard. Retrieved 29 April 2017.
  8. ^ Ebner, Johanna (January 2004). "Williams Receives "Decade of Behavior" Award". Footnotes. Retrieved 29 April 2017.
  9. ^ "David R. Williams CV" (PDF). Retrieved 29 April 2017.
  10. ^ "JBHE's Annual Citation Rankings of Black Scholars in the Social Sciences and the Humanities". Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. 2009. Retrieved 29 April 2017.