Jennifer Leaning, MD, SMH

Senior Research Fellow

Jennifer Leaning, MD, SMH, is a senior fellow at the Harvard FXB Center and Professor of the Practice of Health and Human Rights at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. As associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, she is a faculty member in the Department of Emergency Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. She served as the director of the Harvard FXB Center from January 1, 2010 until September 1, 2018. Prior to her appointment in 2010, Dr. Leaning served for five years as co-director of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative. From 1999 to 2005 Dr. Leaning directed the Program on Humanitarian Crises and Human Rights at the Harvard FXB Center. During the 1980s and 1990s Dr. Leaning held progressively responsible roles in medical management at Harvard Community Health Plan (now Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates) and was medical director of the Health Centers Division from 1992-1997.  She has worked clinically in emergency medicine from 1978 (and at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston from 1986-2005).

Her research interests focus on issues of public health and international law in response to war and disaster, early warning for mass atrocities, and problems of human security in the context of forced migration and conflict. She has field experience in assessment of issues of public health, human rights, and international humanitarian law in a range of crisis situations (including Afghanistan, Albania, Angola, Kosovo, the Middle East, Pakistan, the former Soviet Union, Somalia, the Chad-Darfur border, and the African Great Lakes area).  She has published widely on these topics and submitted reports and policy briefings to US and UN agencies, the International Criminal Court, and major NGOs.

She has served on the boards of Physicians for Human Rights, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and Oxfam America, and the Humane Society of the United States. She has served on several advisory committees, most recently as a member of the Global Health Advisory Committee for the Open Society Foundations. Currently, she is a member of the Steering Committee of the Global Action Against Mass Atrocity Crimes and the Board of Directors of  the Norwegian Refugee Council USA, and the Board of Directors of the American Red Cross of the Massachusetts Region.  She was editor of the international journal Medicine and Global Survival, from 1994-2001, and serves on several journal editorial boards as well as the Board of Syndics at Harvard University Press.

The author of many academic articles, she has also co-edited two books, including Humanitarian Crises: The Medical and Public Health Response,published by Harvard University Press in 1999.  She earned her AB magna cum laude from Radcliffe College, her Masters of Science from Harvard School Public Health, and her MD with honors from the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine.  She trained in internal medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and is board certified in emergency and internal medicine.