In this wide-ranging conversation, RWJF program officers and grantee Nicholas Christakis talk about the health effects of social networks, fundamental shifts in the social sciences (and in human nature itself) and more.
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.
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.
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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.
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
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
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.