Howard Hu, MD, MPH, ScD

Flora L. Thornton Chair and Professor of Population and Public Health Sciences



Howard Hu, MD, MPH, ScD, is the Flora L. Thornton Chair of the Department of Preventive Medicine, Keck School of Medicine, at the University of Southern California. He is a physician-scientist, internist and preventive medicine specialist, with a doctoral degree in epidemiology. Previously, he has been Professor of Occupational & Environmental Medicine (tenured), Founding Director of the NIH/NIEHS Center for Children's Environmental Health, Director of the Occupational Medicine Residency at the Harvard School of Public Health and Associate Physician in the Brigham & Women's Hospital in Boston (1988- 2006); the NSF International Endowed Chair of the Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Professor of Environmental Health, Epidemiology and Medicine (tenured), Founding Director of the NIH/NIEHS Environmental Health Core Sciences Center, and Associate Physician at the University of Michigan and University of Michigan Health System (2006-2012); and Professor of Environmental Health, Epidemiology, Global Health, and Medicine (tenured) and the Founding Dean of the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto (2012-2017). In 2017-2018, while on sabbatical from the University of Toronto, Dr. Hu was a Visiting Scholar at the University of Washington, following which he was appointed as Affiliate Professor in the School of Public Health.

Since 1990, Dr. Hu has led multi-institutional and international teams of scientists, students and fellows devoted to investigating the environmental, nutritional, social, psychosocial, genetic and epigenetic determinants of chronic disease and impaired child development in birth cohort and aging cohort studies in the U.S., Mexico, India, China, and elsewhere around the world. His team's work has generated over 300 publications and won several awards, such as the 1999 Progress and Achievement Award from the U.S. NIH/NIEHS, the 2009 Linus Pauling Lifetime Achievement Award, the 2011 Award of Excellence from the American Public Health Association, and the 2015 John Goldsmith Award for Outstanding Contributions from the International Society for Environmental Epidemiology.

Dr. Hu has continued his work on NIH-funded environmental birth cohort research (the Early Life Exposures in Mexico to Environmental Toxicants project: while co-leading the Global Burden of Disease-Population Health initiative, which aims to improve understanding of pollution's "footprint" on the global burden of disease (

In 1999-2000, Dr. Hu was a Senior Faculty Fulbright Scholar in India. He served on the Board of Directors and on four fact-finding missions for Physicians for Human Rights (Nobel Peace Prize co-winner, 1997); on the Board of Population and Public Health Practice of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences; on the Board of Environmental Studies and Toxicology of the National Research Council; on the External Advisory Council of the U.S. National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences; and as the Chair of the Research Commission for the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (Nobel Peace Prize, 1985). In the latter capacity, he and colleagues published 'Nuclear Wastelands', which was nominated for the U.S. National Book Award in 1996.

As the Founding Dean of the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, Dr. Hu led Canada's best and largest School of Public Health, a Faculty within Canada's best Global University. With the School's leaders, he advanced a number of innovative initiatives involving healthy cities, big data for population health, the integration of the Institute for Health Policy Management and Evaluation as well as the Joint Centre for Bioethics into the School, the creation of the endowed Waakabiness-Bryce Institute for Indigenous health, the integration of population health into primary care, social entrepreneurship, and, with its partners around the world, the global agenda of addressing health inequities, supported, in part, by over $40M raised through the School's Advancement Campaign. In 2016, Dr. Hu was elected to Fellowship in the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences and in 2017, the School was ranked #10 on the ShanghaiRanking's Global Rankings related to Public Health.

Research Interests

  • Molecular Epidemiology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Genetic
  • Translational Research
  • Exposures
  • Lifestyle
  • Air Pollution
  • Water Pollution
  • Exposure Assessment Methods
  • monitoring and instrumentation
  • personal
  • environmental
  • Environmental Justice
  • Human Health Impacts
  • respiratory
  • cardiovascular
  • neurological
  • metabolic
  • Health Endpoints
  • Environmental Omics
  • EH Training and Teaching
  • Population Life-stage Impacts
  • pregnancy
  • infancy
  • adolescence
  • adult
  • senior
  • health
  • Research Design and Methods
  • Public Health Data Sciences