Academics University

Knaul Receives Interdisciplinary Appointment

A leader in global health and social policy in the Americas, Felicia Knaul is appointed to the UM faculty and will lead the Miami Institute for the Americas.

The University of Miami welcomes international health economist and expert in Latin American health systems and social sectors Felicia Knaul, Ph.D., to UM’s Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine and the College of Arts and Sciences beginning Aug. 16, 2015.

Felicia KnaulKnaul will serve as a tenured professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences at the Miller School of Medicine in Miami’s Health District. At the Coral Gables campus, Knaul will serve as Director of the Miami Institute for the Americas (MIA). MIA will focus on policy analysis in all sectors including the humanities, the arts, and social and economic development.

“The University of Miami is a gateway to the Americas and a vibrant base for research and educational innovation to promote social, human, and economic development for the region and the world. I look forward to becoming part of this thriving academic community and to making the city of Miami my home,” said Knaul.  

Knaul most recently served as Director of the Harvard Global Equity Initiative and associate professor at Harvard Medical School. Collaborating with faculty at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, she will contribute to research and teaching in cancer and global health as well as catalyze the University´s research presence throughout the Americas focusing on policy development.

“The College is honored to welcome a professional of Dr. Knaul’s magnitude into the faculty,” said Leonidas G. Bachas, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “With her at the helm of the Miami Institute, we will be able to further our partnerships and educational opportunities throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.”

Knaul’s research focuses on global health, cancer and breast cancer in low- and middle-income countries, women and health, health systems and reform, health financing, access to pain control and palliative care, poverty and inequity, gender equity and female labor force participation, and children in especially difficult circumstances. She has produced over 180 academic and policy publications, including several papers on Mexico and health reform in The Lancet where she also recently co-authored the Commission Report on Women and Health.

She has held senior government posts in Mexico and Colombia and has worked for bilateral and multilateral agencies including the World Health Organization, the World Bank, and UNICEF. She maintains a research base in Mexico anchored at the Mexican Health Foundation and the National Institute of Public Health of Mexico, which will form the beginning of a series of research partnerships with the Latin American and Caribbean region.

Knaul works as both a researcher and advocate on cancer globally. After she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007, Knaul founded the Mexican non-profit organization, Cáncer de Mama: Tómatelo a Pecho, a program that undertakes and promotes research, advocacy, awareness, and early detection initiatives for breast cancer in Latin America. Her journey is documented in her book Beauty without the Breast, and has been featured in The Lancet, Science and Cancer Today. Her research program on breast cancer and health systems spawned the Global Task Force on Expanded Access to Cancer Care and Control, and she is now Chair of the Lancet Commission on Global Access to Pain Control and Palliative Care.

“Dr. Knaul demonstrates the University’s commitment to global health and is a leader in the study of health disparities in the Americas. She is truly a translational scientist, building on her research findings to advocate for better health care for the vulnerable populations,” said José Szapocznik, Ph.D., Chair of UM’s Department of Public Health Sciences at the Miller School and Director of the Miami Clinical Translational Science Institute.

“Dr. Knaul is an exceptional expert to bridge the gap between population health/public health and medicine. She combines her outstanding scientific talent with her personal experience with medicine to create opportunities that will transform the lives of patients who otherwise would be exposed to health inequity due to cultural and social factors,” said Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., Senior Vice President for Medical Affairs and Dean of the Miller School of Medicine, and CEO of UHealth, the University of Miami Health System. “While working at UM, her impact on the lives and health of fellow humans will be substantial for the Americas and beyond.”

After earning her B.A. in Economics and International Development from the University of Toronto, Knaul received a M.A. and Ph.D. in Economics from Harvard University. She is a citizen of Canada and the UK and a permanent resident of Mexico.

Knaul is married to UM President-elect Dr. Julio Frenk and they have two daughters, Hannah Sofia and Mariana Havivah. The family recently moved to South Florida from Sudbury, Massachusetts and maintain a home in Cuernavaca, Mexico.