Barry S. Levy, MD, MPH

Dr. Barry S. Levy is a physician who has spent his career addressing health, peace, and social justice through the lens of public health. Since he completed his education at Tufts, Cornell, and Harvard, he has served in many roles: as an epidemiologist, analyzing the causes of disease; an educator, raising awareness and informing others about threats to health and how to reduce them; and as an advocate, calling out social injustice and what needs to be done to eliminate it. And he is a nationally acclaimed writer and speaker who has developed 22 books and written over 250 journal articles and book chapters. His books were among the first to address the public health impacts of environmental and occupational hazards, war and terrorism, social injustice, and climate change.

Dr. Levy has served as president of the American Public Health Association, during which time he visited all 50 states and travelled to South Africa to present the APHA Presidential Citation to Nelson Mandela. He has worked as a medical epidemiologist with the Epidemic Intelligence Service of the Centers for Disease Control. He has served on the faculties of the University of Massachusetts Medical School and Tufts University School of Medicine. He has been executive director of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War. Dr. Levy has worked on the front lines of public health around the world - in a rural nutrition project in Jamaica, in a Cambodian refugee camp in Thailand, as a visiting professor in China, and as an environmental health specialist in Central and Eastern Europe. And he lived and worked in Kenya for two years, where he directed projects to prevent AIDS and other threats to health.

Throughout his career, Dr. Levy has communicated about his experiences and insights through professional publications, the media, and in-person and virtual presentations to groups large and small. After returning from working in the refugee camp, he gave more than 100 presentations to professional and community organizations on the plight of Cambodian refugees. He has presented major lectures on health and human rights. He was class speaker for his 25th college reunion and his 50th medical school reunion. He has presented commencement addresses at Tufts University School of Medicine and the Harvard School of Public Health. He has appeared in the national media. And, with a deep concern for the erosion of the doctor-patient relationship, he co-wrote and performed, for 20 years, "Damaged Care: The Musical Comedy About Health Care in America," at many venues, including TEDMED, hospitals, medical associations, the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, and Off-Off Broadway in New York.

Dr. Levy recently authored the book From Horror to Hope to broaden recognition of the health impacts of war and to profile people who are preventing these impacts and promoting peace. Published by Oxford University Press, the book has received multiple excellent reviews. He has made numerous speeches on the impacts of war on health, human rights, and the environment.

In a commencement speech, Dr. Levy once urged graduating students to remember their roots, to be themselves, and to think big. He aims to do so in his own life.

Reflecting on a Career in Public Health

As a medical student, I performed a study that found that nurse-midwives at a county hospital substantially increased prenatal care and reduced infant mortality. And then I saw how the results of my research were translated into policy when they were used to support legislation to permit nurse-midwives to practice in many states.

As a medical epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control, I investigated infectious disease outbreaks and cancer incidence, and learned the importance of epidemiology in determining the causes of disease.

As a physician working in a Cambodian refugee camp, I saw firsthand the impact of war and genocide and appreciated the importance of human rights and international humanitarian law as cornerstones of public health.

As a project director in Kenya, I saw how socioeconomic inequities contribute to HIV/AIDS and what health workers and communities can do to address these inequities and prevent disease.

As president of the American Public Health Association, I promoted social justice, disease prevention, and the importance of putting the public in public health.

As an educator, I have helped to create stimulating learning environments and inspire the next generation of public health leaders.

And as an author, editor, and speaker, I have communicated about the interrelationships between health, peace, and social justice.