Karen Emmons was welcomed back to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health at a festive reception held Nov. 2, 2016 in Kresge Cafeteria. Emmons, who began on Nov. 1 as professor and Dean for Academic Affairs, previously served as vice president for research and director of the Kaiser Foundation Research Institute. She was a faculty member in Harvard Chan School’s Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences from 1994 to 2014, and from 2009 to 2013 was associate dean for research.
Emmons has extensive research experience in health disparities and using community-based interventions to improve health equity, and recently was elected to the National Academy of Medicine. Her work has focused on cancer prevention, tobacco control and smoking cessation, and translating health knowledge into improved health outcomes in under-resourced settings.
Emmons said that while the position at Kaiser gave her the opportunity to grow professionally, she realized that “in my heart I am an academic nerd.” She decided to return to the School because “these are my people and this is where I thrive.” She added that she brings back with her new insights into working in complex environments in a spirit of inclusiveness and collaboration. Emmons also said that she was inspired by Kaiser’s efforts to leverage its resources in areas such as purchasing and human resources to improve the health of its employees and its community, and that she looks forward to engaging in conversations about potential initiatives in this area at Harvard Chan School.