Professor Berkman is an internationally-recognized social epidemiologist whose work focuses extensively on social and policy influences on health outcomes.
Her research has been oriented towards understanding inequalities in health related to socioeconomic status, different racial and ethnic groups, and social networks, support and isolation. The majority of her work is devoted to identifying the role of social networks and support in predicting declines in physical and cognitive functioning, onset of disease and mortality, especially related to cardiovascular or cerebrovascular disease.
In addition, she has devoted much of her work to understanding determinants of population health by comparing European countries with the U. S. She is currently a member of the Conseil Scientifique de l’Institut de Recherche en Sante Publique (IReSP) in France and a member of IOM. She has been actively involved since 1994 on the GAZEL study, a cohort of 20,000 French employees of EDF-GDF, the large natural gas-electricity company, and also with a study involving workplace practices and employee and family health.
Dr. Berkman is the author of several books and over 200 publications. She co-edited Social Epidemiology, the first textbook on the topic, plus Neighborhoods and Health (both with Ichiro Kawachi).
Prior to becoming director of the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies, Dr. Berkman was Chair of the Department of Society, Human Development and Health at the Harvard School of Public Health from 1995 – 2008. She is also the former head of the Division of Chronic Disease Epidemiology at Yale University.