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Harvard medical sociologist Christakis to speak on health and social networks for Center for Health and Behavior annual lecture April 12

March 26, 2010

Sara Miller
(315) 443-9038

Nicholas A. Christakis, an internist and social scientist who conducts research on social factors that affect health, health care and longevity, will deliver the Syracuse University Center for Health and Behavior’s eighth annual lecture, “Social Networks and Health,” on Monday, April 12, at 4 p.m. in the Joyce Hergenhan Auditorium in Newhouse 3. The lecture is free and open to all, with a reception to follow. Free parking is available in the University Avenue Garage; metered street parking is available on streets surrounding the campus.

Christakis 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; professor of sociology in the Department of Sociology in the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences; and an attending physician—with an emphasis on palliative medicine—in the Department of Medicine at Mt. Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, Mass.

Christakis’ current work is principally concerned with health and social networks. This work takes seriously the contention that because people are interconnected, their health is interconnected. This work explores two aspects of social networks: the process by which they form (”connection”) and the way they operate to influence behavior (”contagion”). Related work examines the health benefits of marriage and the consequences of spousal illness and widowhood. Other ongoing investigations consider the effects of neighborhoods on people’s health, the biodemographic determinants of longevity and the genetic bases for human behaviors. His past work has examined the accuracy and role of prognosis in medicine and ways of improving end-of-life care. Along with his longtime collaborator, James Fowler, Christakis authored the 2009 book “Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives” (Little, Brown & Co.).

“We are absolutely delighted to bring Dr. Christakis to Syracuse,” says Michael P. Carey, director of the Center for Health and Behavior. “He is a gifted orator and an innovative scientist. His fascinating research connects the health, social and behavioral sciences with communication theory and information technology in order to enhance our understanding of health and disease. Dr. Christakis is a renaissance scholar whose creative research shows that we are all connected–and that these connections are powerful determinants of health, happiness and well-being.”

The Center for Health and Behavior is an all-University center whose mission is to support state-of-the science research on the social and behavioral aspects of health. For more information about the annual lecture, contact Rebecca Bostwick at 443-4629.

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