Advisory Council

Jennifer Leaning, MD, SMH

An expert in public health and rights-based responses to humanitarian crises, Jennifer Leaning, MD, SMH is a senior research fellow at the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University and associate professor of Emergency Medicine at Harvard Medical School. She is professor of the practice of health and human rights, retired, at the Harvard Chan School of Public Health.

Dr. Leaning’s research and policy interests include issues of public health, medical ethics, and early warning in response to war and disaster, human rights and international humanitarian law in crisis settings, and problems of human security in the context of forced migration and conflict. She has field experience in problems of public health assessment and human rights in a range of crisis situations (including Afghanistan, the African Great Lakes area, Albania, Angola, the Chad-Darfur border, Kosovo, the Middle East, Somalia, and the former Soviet Union), and has written widely on these issues.

Dr. Leaning served for five years as co-director of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative. From 1999 to 2005, Dr. Leaning directed the Program on Humanitarian Crises and Human Rights at the FXB Center. During the 1980s and 1990s, Dr. Leaning held progressively responsible roles in medical management at Harvard Community Health Plan and worked clinically in emergency medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. She has served on the boards of Physicians for Human Rights, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and Oxfam America and is currently a member of the board of directors of the Humane Society of the United States and the Massachusetts Bay Chapter of the American Red Cross. She is on the editorial boards of several journals and a member of the Board of Syndics at Harvard University Press. Her research and teaching interests are in human rights, international humanitarian law, and public health and policy response to humanitarian crises. The author of many academic articles, she has also edited two books, including Humanitarian Crises: The Medical and Public Health Response.

Dr. Leaning earned her BA magna cum laude from Radcliffe College, her master of science from Harvard School of Public Health, and her MD with honors from the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine. She trained in internal medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and worked as an emergency physician at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, MA, and then at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA.

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