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John Brownstein - Consulate General of Canada (CTA Boston). Boston, MA, US

John Brownstein

Chief Innovation Officer | Boston Children's Hospital


John Brownstein's research is focused on predicting patterns of epidemics and pandemics, and the efficacy of disease control strategies.



John Brownstein's current research activities focus on predicting patterns of influenza epidemics and pandemics, with specific interests in the efficacy of disease control strategies including vaccination, quarantine and travel restrictions. He has received funding for this research from the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and Canadian Institutes of Health Research. He is also leading the development several novel disease surveillance systems, including HealthMap.org, an internet-based global infectious disease intelligence system. The system receives grant funding from Google.org and is currently in use by the CDC, WHO, DHS, DOD, HHS, EU among others. As reported in the New England Journal of Medicine, HealthMap data provided one of the earliest indications of the novel H1N1 virus in 2009. He also published extensively on issues of patient privacy (including a recent piece in the New England Journal). His research also includes the development novel surveillance methods and informatics approaches for the post-marketing surveillance of therapeutics.
Brownstein was trained as an epidemiologist at Yale University, where he received his PhD. Dr. Brownstein’s research interests are in the development of methods and data sources in public health informatics which focuses on two major areas: (1) the design, evaluation and implementation of public health surveillance systems and (2) statistical modeling of public health surveillance data to improve prevention and control activities. This research has focused on a variety of infectious disease systems including malaria, HIV, dengue, West Nile virus, Lyme disease, RSV, salmonella, listeria and influenza.

Dr. Brownstein has advised the World Health Organization, Institute of Medicine, the US Departments of Health and Human Services and Homeland Security, and the White House on real-time public health surveillance data. He has used this experience in his role as Vice President of the International Society for Disease Surveillance. He has authored over one hundred articles in the area of disease surveillance. This work has been reported on widely including pieces in the New England Journal of Medicine, Science, Nature, New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, National Public Radio and the BBC.

Industry Expertise (3)

Health Care - Providers

Health and Wellness

Health Care - Facilities

Areas of Expertise (9)

Population Health Informatics

Molecular Biology

Program Management


Public Health

Data Analysis

Healthcare Information Technology

Strategic Planning

Computational Epidemiology Health Geographics

Education (1)

Yale University: Ph.D., Epidemiology





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Affiliations (3)

  • Harvard Medical School
  • International Society for Disease Surveillance
  • Computation Epidemiology Group - Children's Hospital Boston

Selected Media Appearances (4)

Timeline of the week leading up to COVID-19 outbreak in Mike Pence orbit

ABC News  online


Dr. John Brownstein, a Harvard epidemiologist and ABC News contributor, said that Pence "clearly meets the CDC definition" of COVID-19 exposure and should voluntarily be in quarantine...

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Trump embraces idea behind ‘herd immunity’ as Fauci calls concept ‘total nonsense’

WEIS  online


But John Brownstein, an epidemiologist at Boston Children’s Hospital and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, said the Great Barrington Declaration did, in fact, back the idea of letting the virus rip through the community — as long as the vulnerable were protected. “It’s the same thing,” Brownstein, an ABC News contributor, said. “I don’t see the distinction...”

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Carpooling or ride-sharing during the pandemic? These are the rules you should follow

WSB-TV Atlanta  online


"Your additional contacts lead to potential risk so if you maintain the same contacts, you will reduce your own risk and the risk of spreading to others, Dr. John Brownstein with the Boston Children’s Hospital said...

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Massachusetts' COVID-19 response was science-based, so why are cases rising?

ABC News  online


The weather isn't helping either. States across the country have seen rising COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in recent weeks. "Drier conditions are creating more transmission," said Dr. John Brownstein, chief innovation officer at Boston Children's Hospital and an ABC News contributor. "People are starting to spend more time indoors with the temperature coming down..."

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Selected Articles (5)

Crowding and the shape of COVID-19 epidemics

National Library of Medicine


The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is straining public health systems worldwide, and major non-pharmaceutical interventions have been implemented to slow its spread. During the initial phase of the outbreak, dissemination of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) was primarily determined by human mobility from Wuhan, China. Yet empirical evidence on the effect of key geographic factors on local epidemic transmission is lacking.

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Web and phone-based COVID-19 syndromic surveillance in Canada: A cross-sectional study

PLoS One


Syndromic surveillance through web or phone-based polling has been used to track the course of infectious diseases worldwide. Our study objective was to describe the characteristics, symptoms, and self-reported testing rates of respondents in three different COVID-19 symptom surveys in Canada.

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Factors Associated With US Adults' Likelihood of Accepting COVID-19 Vaccination

JAMA Netw Open


The development of a coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine has progressed at unprecedented speed. Widespread public uptake of the vaccine is crucial to stem the pandemic. To examine the factors associated with survey participants' self-reported likelihood of selecting and receiving a hypothetical COVID-19 vaccine.

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Online negative sentiment towards Mexicans and Hispanics and impact on mental well-being: A time-series analysis of social media data during the 2016 United States presidential election



The purpose was to use Twitter to conduct online surveillance of negative sentiment towards Mexicans and Hispanics during the 2016 United States presidential election, and to examine its relationship with mental well-being in this targeted group at the population level.

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Mask Wearing and Control of SARS-CoV-2 Transmission in the United States



Cloth face coverings and surgical masks have become commonplace across the United States in response to the SARS-CoV-2 epidemic. While evidence suggests masks help curb the spread of respiratory pathogens, research is limited. Face masks have quickly become a topic of public debate as government mandates have started requiring their use.

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