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John Brownstein

John Brownstein, PhD

Infectious disease epidemiologist. Chief Innovation Officer at Boston Children's Hospital. Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard University.

“If you really wanted to understand the health of a population or at a national scale, you can’t do that with clinical data. Yet there’s all this digital exhaust… if you could collect that information, harness it, categorize it, filter, you can get important population signals that you could never have gotten.”

John Brownstein is the Chief Innovation Officer of Boston Children’s Hospital and Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. At Boston Children’s Hospital, he directs the Computational Epidemiology Lab and the Innovation and Digital Health Accelerator.

A trained epidemiologist, Brownstein uses emerging technologies to help clarify patterns of influenza epidemics and pandemics, and promote public health interventions including vaccination, quarantine, and travel restrictions. He pioneered the use of digital data sources to advance understanding of population health, or “digital epidemiology.” He has been at the forefront of the development and application of data mining and citizen science to public health.

Brownstein is the co-founder of digital health companies Circulation and Epidemico. He also leads the development of public health tools HealthMap, an internet-based surveillance system that tracks emerging infectious disease threats, Vaccine Finder, and MedWatcher. Brownstein serves as a healthcare advisor to Uber.

He also plays advisory roles to numerous agencies on real-time public health surveillance including the World Health Organization, Institute of Medicine, the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services and Homeland Security, and the White House. In addition to being recognized by the National Library of Congress and the Smithsonian for his work, Brownstein has received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government to outstanding scientists, and the Lagrange Prize for international achievements in complexity sciences.

Brownstein received his bachelor’s degree in biology from McGill University and Ph.D. in epidemiology from Yale University. He has authored over 200 peer-reviewed articles on epidemiology and digital and public health.

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