Eric Feigl-Ding

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Eric Feigl-Ding
Born
Eric Liang Ding

(1983-03-28) March 28, 1983 (age 38)
EducationJohns Hopkins University (BA)
Harvard University (ScD, ScD)
Boston University (DNF)
Spouse(s)Andrea Feigl-Ding
Scientific career
FieldsPublic health
Epidemiology
Nutrition
Health Policy
InstitutionsFederation of American Scientists
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Harvard Medical School
Brigham & Women's Hospital
ThesisSex steroid hormones and type 2 diabetes risk (2007)
Websitefas.org/expert/eric-feigl-ding/

Eric Liang Feigl-Ding (born March 28, 1983) is an American public health scientist who is currently a Senior Fellow at the Federation of American Scientists[1] in Washington DC. He was formerly a faculty member and researcher at Harvard Medical School and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. He is also the Chief Health Economist for Microclinic International. His research and advocacy have primarily focused on systematic reviews & meta-analysis, obesity, cancer prevention, and drinking water safety. Feigl-Ding is a Paul and Daisy Soros Fellow,[2] and a World Economic Forum Global Shaper.[3]

Feigl-Ding was a candidate in the 2018 Democratic primary for Pennsylvania's 10th congressional district.[4][5] During the COVID-19 pandemic, Feigl-Ding's commentary on COVID-19 attracted considerable attention on Twitter.[6] In late January 2020, Feigl-Ding's early alarm and call for COVID-19 preparedness[6] went viral[7] on Twitter. Feigl-Ding later commented on the COVID-19 pandemic and mitigation efforts in various media and urged action.[8][9]

Early life and education[edit]

Feigl-Ding was born in Shanghai, and his family immigrated to the United States when he was five years old.[10] He was raised in South Dakota[11] and Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, where he graduated from Shippensburg Area Senior High School[12] and was an alumnus of the Pennsylvania Governor's Schools of Excellence.[13]

In 2004, he completed his undergraduate studies at Johns Hopkins University with Honors in Public Health [14] He completed his dual Doctor of Science doctoral program in epidemiology and doctoral program in nutrition from Harvard University in 2007[14] He attended Boston University School of Medicine, but did not complete the M.D. program.[15][16]

Work[edit]

Research and Work[edit]

Feigl-Ding's work focuses on epidemiology, health economics, and nutrition. He is a Senior Fellow at the Federation of American Scientists. He was a researcher at the Harvard Medical School, and at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.[1][14]

Feigl-Ding is also the Chief Health Economist at Microclinic International,[17] as co-principal investigator of several intervention programs for obesity and diabetes prevention in the US and abroad. He developed a 130-year cohort study of Major League Baseball regarding the relationship between obesity and mortality in athletes.[18] He has also developed and led public health programs for Bell County, Kentucky,[19] the Danish Ministry of Health,[20] and as a report chairman for the European Commission.[21]

In 2006, while completing his doctorate at Harvard, Feigl-Ding became known as pharmaceutical industry whistleblower for a JAMA study he co-authored on COX-2 inhibitors.[22] The research confirmed serious risks specifically associated with the drug, VIOXX.[23] Given the data, Merck should have known of the serious health risks years before the drug was pulled off the market.[24][25]

He also developed a direct-to-science model for accelerating cancer research, and is advocate of crowdfunding for medical research.[26] His efforts, including the creation of the now-defunct Campaign for Cancer Prevention,[27][26] raised over $500,000 in public donations, and he led cancer prevention advocacy platforms totaling over 6 million members.[28]

He founded Toxin Alert, as a public alert tool to warn communities about drinking water contaminations to prevent future lead poisonings like the Flint Water Crisis.[29][30][31][32]

During the 2013-2016 Ebola epidemic, Feigl-Ding led a team to co-develop one of the first mobile contact-tracing applications for infectious disease outbreaks.[33] The project was shelved after lack of interest in pandemic prepardness technology, but the early contact-tracing app's contributions lived on to inform the later designs of contact tracing apps developed during the COVID-19 outbreak.[34]

Feigl-Ding has published over 100 scientific papers in journals including the New England Journal of Medicine, Journal of the American Medical Association, PLoS Medicine, and The Lancet. As of April 2021, his h-index is 85.[35]

Coronavirus preparedness advocacy[edit]

On January 20, 2020, Feigl-Ding went viral[7] on Twitter after expressing his worries about the 2019–20 Wuhan coronavirus outbreak virus' basic reproduction number (R0) of up to 3.8.[6] He compared the virus pandemic potential to the 1918 influenza pandemic[6] which has an estimated R0 of 1.8 and which killed ~50 million people out of 2 billion, and called for WHO and CDC to preemptively declare public health emergency and monitor aggressively the situation.[6] With the thread going viral, his appeals were criticized by his epidemiologist peers as alarmist and based on anecdotal data,[6] by journalists as misleading and misinforming the public,[36]. While Feigl-Ding deleted his earliest tweets,[37] the rapid development of the epidemic, first in China in January, then in Europe in February–March and in the United States in March, together with more studies on the virus, turned his perceptions into that of an early messenger,[6][38] and he was invited as a commentator on the pandemic by news media.[39]. Subsequently, earlier criticisms from certain colleagues have been deleted[40], and an earlier Atlantic article[36] by Alexis Madrigal has been recanted[41] by Madrigal publicly[42] after his realization of the pandemic and reading of the assessment by David Wallace-Wells.[37]

A case study of social web early alert

Feigl-Ding's alert was used to hypothesize that such early reactiveness to weak signals, if it had occurred in the relevant governmental health leadership circles, could have prevented the pandemic.[6] Following Feigl-Ding's call and his raising of the alarm in January, better responses by government authorities could have led millions to have prepared earlier and better to the pandemic, upgrading their hygiene, such as hand-washing and implementing social distancing measures.[6] It was proposed[who?] that public policies and actions should be based on precautionary principles rather than waiting for incontestable and inarguable evidences or the tide of public pressure.[6] Feigl-Ding's early pandemic alert was compared to the warnings since the 1970s about human-induced global warming, which in the 1980s had sufficiently strong early signals to have started actively planning for and responding to, reducing the disasters and costs of global warming during the 2000s and 2010s.[6]

Feigl-Ding argued that the data alone were clear, for anyone with elementary engineering, statistical, or business analytical skills to see the pandemic potential early on.[7] It was hypothesized that social media constant noise made relevant alarms such as Feigl-Ding's inaudible,[6] while Feigl-Ding argued that media reliance on vetted experts on a given topic might reduce access to relevant early alarms.[7]

The rise of Feigl-Ding as a leading TV and media commentator upon the COVID19 pandemic has led to academic debate. While Feigl-Ding has published many academic papers and is a 'Highly Cited Researcher' in Web of Science[43], his specialty is in chronic disease epidemiology, clinical trials, global disease burden, and public health policy, rather than in the subfield of infectious disease epidemiology. He was named among the top 6000 Highly-Cited Researchers worldwide[44], and among the 186 top cited scholars across Harvard University in 2018.[45]

While Feigl-Ding holds doctorates in both epidemiology and in nutrition, with his professional experience in systematic reviews, cancer, diabetes, and epidemiology of chronic disease,[7][46][47], he had received both early criticism for offering social media commentary on the COVID-19 pandemic for his research work not being directly in infectious disease epidemiology, as well as praise from David_Wallace-Wells[37], editor-at-large at New York Magazine. Feigl-Ding's professional experience at Harvard School of Public Health has included numerous studies on the global burden of disease trends and their risk factors, including HIV, hepatitis, sanitation, and overall infectious and non-infectious diseases[48], as well as developing in 2014 a mobile application design for aiding infectious disease contact tracing during the 2013-2016 Ebola epidemic.[49][50]

Feigl-Ding has subsequently warned the public and alerted the media on COVID-19 pandemic crisis in many countries, including the likely death toll in the US[51], the underdiagnosis in Mexico[52][53] , the P1 variant crisis in Brazil[54][55], and the P1 outbreak in British Columbia, Canada[56].

Political campaign[edit]

On February 27, 2018, Feigl-Ding announced his candidacy in the Democratic primary for Pennsylvania's 10th congressional district.[16] He campaigned on a progressive platform advocating for science, universal healthcare, and public health.[16] During the run up to the election, Feigl-Ding did not take corporate PAC money.[5] He received 18% of the vote and lost the primary to George Scott.[4]

Recognition and awards[edit]

Feigl-Ding has received the Boston Chamber of Commerce's Outstanding Young Leader Award (2012),[57] the American Heart Association's Scott Grundy Excellence Award (2015),[58] the Sigma Chi Mark V. Anderson Leadership Award (2016),[59] the CUGH's Global Health Project of the Year Prize (2014),[60] the Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans (2008).[61] He is also a World Economic Forum Global Shaper.[3] He was recognized by Craigslist founder Craig Newmark as one of “16 People and Organizations Changing the World in 2012”.[62], and named in 2018 as among the 6000 most 'Highly Cited Researchers' worldwide and the 186 top cited scholars across Harvard University.[63]

References[edit]

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  3. ^ a b "Global Shapers Alumni Network". Global Shapers. Retrieved 2020-02-06.
  4. ^ a b "Eric Ding". Ballotpedia.
  5. ^ a b Editorial, Guest (May 11, 2018). "I'm running for Congress because facts matter | Eric Ding". pennlive.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Wallace-Wells, David (2020-03-26). "Why Did an Expert Who Warned About COVID-19 Have So Much Trouble Being Heard?". Intelligencer. Retrieved 2020-04-07.
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  9. ^ Staff Reporter (2020-03-28). "Scientist Warned of the Danger of COVID-19, but No One Listened". Science Times. Retrieved 2020-04-08.
  10. ^ Mervis, Jeffrey; 2018; Pm, 1:15 (2018-05-22). "Defeated but unbowed: Two Pennsylvania scientists regroup after primary loss". Science | AAAS. Retrieved 2020-07-10.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
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  12. ^ "SASHS grad Dr Eric Ding urges students to follow their passion". 2017-10-26. Retrieved 2021-04-17.
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  42. ^ "Madrigal: I think the critique of a story I wrote in this intelligencer essay is basically correct". twitter.com.
  43. ^ {Cite web|url=https://clarivate.com/news/global-highly-cited-researchers-2018-list-reveals-influential-scientific-researchers-and-their-institutions/%7Ctitle=Global Highly Cited Researchers 2018 List Reveals Influential Scientific Researchers and their Institutions, Clarivate Analytics names people with multiple papers ranking in the top 1% by citations for their field and year|date=2018-11-27|website=Clarivate|language=en|access-date=2021-04-17}}
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  46. ^ Bartlett, Tom (April 17, 2020). "This Harvard Epidemiologist Is Very Popular on Twitter". Chronicle of Higher Education.
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  48. ^ "Eric L Ding - Google Scholar Citations". scholar.google.com.
  49. ^ "Germ Theory App Systemizes Containment of Ebola & Other Infectious Diseases". hackreactor.com. December 5, 2014.
  50. ^ "Pandemic fighting tool developed at Hack Reactor gets new life". hackreactor.com. June 11, 2020.
  51. ^ Coronavirus US: Harvard epidemiologist predicted COVID-19 outbreak. In January, epidemiologist Eric Feigl-Ding warned COVID-19 would sweep the world. In July, he said the US would pass 200,000 deaths. Both times, he was right.
  52. ^ "La variante de Brasil es dos veces más rápida; me preocupa México". March 30, 2021. Retrieved April 17, 2021.
  53. ^ "López-Gatell responde a científico de Harvard que lamenta 'diagnóstico insuficiente' de COVID-19 en México". June 22, 2020. Retrieved April 17, 2021.
  54. ^ "Entrevista: 'Brasil é como Fukushima, pode pôr em risco o mundo inteiro', diz epidemiologista". April 5, 2021. Retrieved April 17, 2021.
  55. ^ "La variante de Brasil es dos veces más rápida; me preocupa México". March 30, 2021. Retrieved April 17, 2021.
  56. ^ "U.S. expert says Canada is missing the chance to fight the P.1 COVID-19 variant". April 6, 2021. Retrieved April 17, 2021.
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  58. ^ "AHA Connections Spring 2015". aha-365.ascendeventmedia.com.
  59. ^ "Mark V. Anderson Character-in-Action Leadership Award - List of Award Recipients".
  60. ^ "Consortium of Universities for Global Health - Fifth Annual Global Health Conference" (PDF).
  61. ^ "Meet the Fellows | Eric Feigl-Ding". www.pdsoros.org.
  62. ^ "16 People and Organizations Changing the World in 2012". December 26, 2011.
  63. ^ "Harvard Chan faculty members among most highly cited". Harvard Chan School of Public Health. 2020-03-31. Retrieved 2021-04-17.

External links[edit]