Michael Merson

Professor of Medicine, Community and Family Medicine, and Public Policy, Duke University
Director, Duke Global Health Institute


Michael H. Merson, M.D. is the founding director of the Duke Global Health Institute, Wolfgang Joklik Professor of Global Health, and Professor of Medicine, Community and Family Medicine, and Public Policy at Duke University. He joined the Duke faculty in November, 2006.

Dr. Merson graduated from Amherst College (BA) and the State University of New York, Downstate Medical Center. After serving as a medical intern and resident at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, he worked in the Enteric Diseases Branch at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, GA, and then served as the Chief Epidemiologist at the Cholera Research Laboratory in Dhaka, Bangladesh. His research focused on the etiology and epidemiology of acute diarrheal diseases, including cholera, in developing countries and on the cause of travelers’ diarrhea in persons visiting these countries.

In 1978, he joined the World Health Organization (WHO) as a Medical Officer in the Diarrheal Diseases Control Program. He served as Director of that Program from January 1980 until May 1990. In August 1987, he was also appointed Director of the WHO Acute Respiratory Infections Control Program. In May 1990, he was appointed as Director of the WHO Global Program on AIDS. This Program was operational worldwide and responsible for mobilizing and coordinating the global response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

In April 1995, he joined Yale University School of Medicine as its first Dean of Public Health and as Professor and Chairman of the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, positions he held until December 2004. In 2001 he was named as the Anna M. R. Lauder Professor of Public Health in the Yale University School of Medicine. From 1999-2006, he also served as Director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS at Yale University, which undertakes research on HIV prevention in vulnerable and underserved populations in this country and abroad.. He also led a number of training programs that strengthened the capacity of scientists in Russia, China, India and South Africa to undertake HIV/AIDS prevention research.

Dr. Merson has authored more than 175 articles, primarily in the area of disease prevention. His most recent contributions concern HIV prevention in developing countries and global AIDS policy issues. He is the senior editor of International Public Health, which is a leading global health textbook in the United States. He currently serves in advisory capacities for UNAIDS, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, the World Bank, and the Doris Duke Foundation, is a member of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's Global HIV Prevention Working Group, and has served on several NIH review panels and advisory committees.

Dr. Merson has received two Commendation Medals from the U.S. Public Health Service, the Arthur S. Flemming Award for distinguished government service, the Surgeon General’s Exemplary Service Medal and two honorary degrees. He has been elected to the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and is a member of IOM's Board on Global Health. He was recently selected as an Ambassador of the Paul G. Rogers Society for Global Health Research.