Nicholas A. Christakis, MD, PhD, MPH, is a social scientist and physician who conducts research on social factors that affect health, health care, and longevity. He directs the Human Nature Lab at Harvard University. He is Professor of Medical Sociology in the Department of Health Care Policy at Harvard Medical School; Professor of Medicine in the Department of Medicine at Harvard Medical School; and Professor of Sociology in the Department of Sociology in the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences. He is the Master of Pforzheimer House in Harvard College.
Dr. Christakis' lab is currently focused on the relationship between social networks and health. People are inter-connected, and so their health is inter-connected. This research engages two types of phenomena: the social, mathematical, and biological rules governing how social networks form ("connection") and the biological and social implications of how they operate to influence thoughts, feelings, and behaviors ("contagion"). Other ongoing investigations in the lab consider the biodemographic determinants of longevity and the genetic bases for human behaviors.
Along with his long-time collaborator, James Fowler, Dr. Christakis has authored a general-audience book on social networks: Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives, which has been translated into nearly twenty foreign languages.
The Spread of Obesity in Social Networks
N.A. Christakis and J.H. Fowler, "The Spread of Obesity in a Large Social Network Over 32 Years," New England Journal of Medicine 357(4): 370-379 (July 2007)
Predicting the Future Using Social Network Structure
N.A. Christakis and J.H. Fowler, "Social Network Sensors for Early Detection of Contagious Outbreaks," PLoS One, 5(9): e12948. doi:10.1371/journal.
pone.0012948 (September 2010)
We Are Surrounded by a Sea of Our Friends' Genes
J.H. Fowler, J.E. Settle, and N.A. Christakis, "Correlated Genotypes in Friendship Networks," PNAS: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (January 2011)
Rewiring Your Network Fosters Cooperation
D.G. Rand, S. Arbesman, and N.A. Christakis, "Dynamic Social Networks Promote Cooperation in Experiments with Humans," PNAS: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (October 2011)