Nicholas Christakis: Social Networks Research

Grantee Nicholas Christakis of Harvard Medical School received a grant in 2007 to study the spread of health outcomes and behaviors within social networks. Christakis uses an approach involving datasets and statistical methods which allow researchers to study how health outcomes and behaviors penetrate into a person’s social network. This grant was closed in 2010.

View previous grant details

Christakis received a second grant in 2011 that allowed him to further his research on how health outcomes and behaviors spread throughout a person’s social network. The project took his initial research a step further by allowing him and his team to study the social network structure on a national scale and evaluate a “sensor network” approach to predict epidemics.  This grant is ongoing.

View current grant details


Harvard University

Nicholas A. Christakis
Project Director

James Fowler
Project Director

REad what People are saying about Nicholas Christakis...

...On "Harvard Professor Finds That Innovative Ideas Spread Like The Flu; Here's How To Catch Them"

...On Healthcare IT News: "WIRED Healthcare Conference Shows Data at Work"

...In The Harvard Gazette: "Doctor Knots"

...In The Atlantic: "Organ Donation Is a Market Problem—and Facebook May Have Just Solved It"

How do social networks impact our health?

In these videos, Nicholas Christakis discusses his research on how social network mapping could better our lives and improve our health. Christakis tracks how a wide variety of traits -- from happiness to obesity -- can spread from person to person, showing how your location in the network might impact your life in ways you don't even know. These networks can also be used to detect epidemics and spread of viruses.

Results from Nicholas Christakis Grants

Using Friends as Sensors to Detect Global-Scale Contagious Outbreaks

Online data is a rich source for examining epidemics and patterns across the globe. Using information from Twitter, researchers examined local network structures and its impact on the contagious spread of information globally.

Read more

How Our Friends (and Our Friends' Friends) Influence Our Health

People's lives are intertwined in social networks—at school, at work, in their neighborhoods and in their activities. In partnership with his long-time collaborator, James Fowler, PhD, a social scientist at the University of California, San Diego, Christakis and a team of Harvard researchers deepened their investigation of how social netowrks impact health by building several data sets that could be used to analyze the role that social networks play in health and health care.

Read more

Do Facebook and Other Social Networks Influence Health and Behavior?

This field work examines the role social netowrks play in health and health care. The research found compelling evidence that the spread of important health and behavioral phenomena from person to person exists.

Read more

Social Network Sensors for Early Detection of Contagious Outbreaks

In this study published in PLoS One, researchers evaluated whether the friends of randomly selected individuals could provide early detection, the authors studied a flu outbreak at Harvard College in late 2009.

Read More

Nicholas Christakis on Pioneering Ideas Blog

See all

Most Requested