Judd Walson, Infectious Disease and Child Survival Expert, Joins Bloomberg School as Chair of Department of International Health
Judd Walson, MD, MPH, has joined the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health as chair of the Department of International Health and as professor in the Department’s Global Disease Epidemiology and Control program. He assumed the role on November 14, 2023.
Walson, whose work focuses on low- and middle-income settings, comes from the University of Washington, where he held several positions since 2007, most recently professor of Global Health, Medicine (Infectious Disease), Pediatrics, and Epidemiology.
For more than 60 years, the Bloomberg School’s Department of International Health has been committed to helping the world’s most vulnerable and disadvantaged people improve their health and well-being.
As chair, Walson plans to continue addressing major factors that underpin poverty and disease and lead to inequity and injustice across the world.
“Emerging from this pandemic, people are increasingly recognizing how our health and well-being are intertwined and we are all affected by what happens globally,” says Walson. “Recent social justice movements have also highlighted the role that racism and colonialism play in shaping the economic, social, and political structures that are at the heart of poor health outcomes. The Department of International Health is uniquely positioned to play a key role in redefining what it means to be a U.S.-based academic institution working to improve health and well-being in collaboration with our global and local partners across the world.”
Walson’s research spans public health programing, policy development, and clinical practice. His work focuses on identifying populations most vulnerable to preventable deaths and intervening to improve child survival, growth, and development. Walson has conducted numerous trials investigating poor nutrition and infectious diseases to inform improvements in policy and programs globally.
He co-leads the Childhood Acute Illness and Nutrition Network, a collaboration of experts working at institutions across sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. The studies conducted under the network have led to the development of strategies to reduce mortality among acutely ill children. The research has also led to novel approaches enabling risk-differentiated care, ensuring those at highest risk are supported adequately both during and after contact with the health system. He also leads the DeWorm3 study—a large community cluster randomized trial focused on eliminating soil-transmitted helminths that has enrolled over 360,000 individuals in Benin, Malawi, and India. These intestinal parasites include roundworm and hookworm and are among the most common causes of infections in humans, disproportionately impacting communities living in poverty.
At the University of Washington, Walson served as vice chair of the University of Washington’s Department of Global Health from 2019 to 2022. He led projects and clinical trials in collaboration with governments, industry, nongovernmental organizations, and academic partners in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, including initiatives in Benin, Burkina Faso, Kenya, Malawi, Uganda, Tanzania, Bangladesh, Nepal, India, and Pakistan.
He was also the co-director of the Global Center for the Integrated Health of Women, Adolescents, and Children, a joint enterprise between three academic departments at the University of Washington. From 2015 to 2023, Walson served as executive director of the START (Strategic Analysis, Research and Training) Center, a research consulting group established by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the University of Washington’s Department of Global Health. The group provides research and analytic support to public health organizations globally.
Walson serves as an adviser on a number of World Health Organization committees, including the Strategic and Technical Advisory Group for Neglected Tropical Diseases and the Working Group for Risk-Stratified Care of Acutely Ill Children.
Walson is a committed mentor who has overseen the work of more than 80 graduate students, many of whom came from low- and middle-income settings and from underrepresented minority groups in the United States. In addition to teaching at the University of Washington, he has collaborated on courses and trainings and provided mentorship for students at institutions globally, including the University of Nairobi; Christian Medical College, Vellore, India; Kathmandu University; Aga Khan University, Pakistan; and Nagasaki University.
“Dr. Walson is a strong and compassionate leader with a commitment to advancing equitable access to health and well-being for all, especially children,” says Bloomberg School Dean Ellen J. MacKenzie, PhD, ScM. “He is dedicated to addressing the legacy of colonialism and the very real and damaging impacts of racism and power imbalances within and beyond our own institutions.”
Walson received his bachelor’s degree in Cultural Anthropology from Pitzer College and he holds an MPH and MD from Tufts University. He did his internship and residency in medicine and pediatrics at Duke University, where he became the assistant chief medical resident before completing a fellowship in infectious diseases at the University of Washington.
He succeeds David Peters, MD, DrPH, MPH, who stepped down at the beginning of the year to become the Dean of Faculty of Health at the University of York in Toronto, Canada. Joanne Katz, ScD, a professor in International Health, served as interim chair before Walson assumed his new role.
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