Marcella Alsan, professor of public policy at Harvard Kennedy School, has been elected as a member of the National Academy of Medicine, one of the most prestigious honors in the medical and public health fields. 

The academy announced on Monday that Alsan was among the 90 regular members from the United States elected in 2022. Another 10 international members also were elected. 

The citation recognizing Alsan says she was chosen “for her scholarly insights on understanding the origins of medical mistrust and the role it plays in understanding health disparities. Her work has shaped policy in addressing disparities through increasing health care workforce diversity and improving messaging in reaching historically marginalized and vulnerable populations.” 

The National Academy of Medicine’s stated purpose “is to provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation and conduct other activities to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions.” Along with its affiliated academies of science and engineering, the medicine academy also works to promote education and research and to “recognize outstanding contributions to knowledge.” 

This was the second major recent honor for Alsan. In September 2021 she was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship, becoming the first sitting Harvard Kennedy School faculty member to win the so-called genius grant for her work on understanding the legacies of mistrust and discrimination in perpetuating health inequities. 

Alsan is based in the Kennedy School’s Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy and also is affiliated with the Center for International Development. She has described her work as focusing on two main questions—what are the origins of health inequalities, and what can be done to reduce them? 

Marcella Alsan earned her undergraduate degree from Harvard College, a Master in Public Health from the Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health, a medical degree from Loyola University Chicago, and a PhD in economics from Harvard University.  

She served as an associate professor of medicine, economics, and health research and policy at Stanford before joining the Harvard faculty in 2019. She served a fellowship in infectious diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital and a Global Health Equity Residency Fellowship at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. 

She is co-editor of the Journal of Health Economics and co-chair of the Health Care Delivery Initiative of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab based at MIT.