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Kathryn Falb Named Leon S. Robertson Faculty Development Chair in Injury Prevention

Kathryn Falb, ScD, MHS ’07, assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, was installed as the new Leon S. Robertson Faculty Development Chair in Injury Prevention on November 15, 2023. Falb, a recognized leader in preventing violence against women and children in humanitarian settings, joined the Bloomberg School’s Department of International Health in August. She serves as a faculty member in the Department’s Health Systems Program, as well as the Center for Humanitarian Health and the International Injury Research Unit at the School.

The Leon S. Robertson Chair in Injury Prevention was endowed to support the career development of an assistant or associate professor in the departments of Health Policy and Management and International Health at the Bloomberg School whose principal focus relates to the field of injury prevention. Leon S. Robertson, PhD, is an internationally recognized expert in injury epidemiology and prevention. He has held positions at Harvard Medical School, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the University of Minnesota, and Yale University. He has written nine books and more than 140 research publications dealing with injury prevention.

Falb is an evaluation methodologist with over 20 years of experience in intentional injury prevention, including extensive experience in addressing both gender-based violence and child abuse in challenging settings. “Her experience in working in settings affected by armed conflict, climate change, and disaster areas will be an asset to the Center and we welcome the expertise she brings to our work in preventing and reducing human suffering during humanitarian emergencies,” says Paul Spiegel, MD, MPH ’96, director of the Center for Humanitarian Health and Distinguished Professor of the Practice in the Department of International Health.

Falb has worked on a range of violence-prevention projects, from working in direct service provision overseeing family violence prevention programs in refugee camps in Thailand and communities in rural Uganda, to supporting military families in the United States when soldiers returned home with posttraumatic stress disorder or grappled with substance use or other mental health issues. “The depth and breadth of Dr. Falb’s experience working in injury and violence prevention in humanitarian settings enables her to bring her unique experiences to the Health Systems Program and serve as a link between the Department’s injury and humanitarian health centers,” says Sara Bennett, PhD, professor in the Department of International Health and director of the Health Systems Program.

Prior to coming to the Department, Falb worked for nearly ten years as an embedded researcher with the International Rescue Committee, where she designed, tested, and scaled interventions intended to prevent and respond to violence against women and children in crisis-affected countries, and most recently served as its research director. She has used qualitative and quantitative methodologies to better understand the drivers of interpersonal violence and employed human-centered design and participatory approaches to develop and rigorously trial new models of violence prevention in a variety of humanitarian settings. Falb’s work at the IRC culminated in helping to secure a $57 million contract for the IRC and consortia partners to help innovate and scale gender-based violence prevention programming with women’s organizations in settings around the world.

Falb’s background as a methodologist will facilitate collaboration with diverse groups in the Department, while her commitment to influencing programs and policies has the potential to impact millions of vulnerable people across the world. Her research and operational experience on inclusive approaches to gender-based violence and child abuse prevention will allow for a wider consideration of injury in international development settings and will forge stronger linkages between the various centers and research groups in the Department. “Her extensive experience in both research and practice in humanitarian health with a focus on gender-based violence and other forms of injuries make her a wonderful addition to the Department,” says Bennett.