About Us

History of Harvard and Health in China

The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health has been engaged in education, research, and knowledge exchange with China for more than a century. Just two years after the School was founded in 1913, it welcomed its first international students—three Chinese doctors. A decade later, Dean David Linn Edsall took a six-month trip to China to conduct research. In 1979, after the Cultural Revolution, the Harvard Chan School became the first foreign school of public health to work with the Chinese government and Chinese schools of public health.

Over the past four decades, ties between Harvard Chan researchers and peers across China have grown increasingly close. Harvard faculty guided and assisted China in establishing the field of health policy and management, while also training the first generation of Chinese molecular biologists in public health. The School’s work with academic and government partners has resulted in numerous cooperative endeavors in research, education, academic exchange, and network building.

These joint efforts have yielded remarkable results, including:

    1. Piloting an innovative, low-cost health insurance system that has since expanded to cover more than 90 percent of China’s 833 million rural residents.
    2. Expanding health education by helping to launch a network connecting major Chinese universities to educate new generations of health economists and policymakers.
    3. Identifying culturally relevant strategies to slow the spread of diabetes, obesity, and heart disease.
    4. Prompting the tightening of air-quality standards in factories across China through a 30-year study linking cotton dust to lung disease.
    5. Introducing high-tech, low-cost mobile health centers to rural China in the aftermath of the devastating 2008 earthquake.
    6. Advancing scientific understanding of the SARS virus in ways that helped contain a potential worldwide pandemic.

Harvard China Health Partnership

Today, the Harvard China Health Partnership (HCHP) provides a platform for faculty across Harvard University to advance scholarship on China.

Rich research partnerships with leading universities and government agencies for health in China provide a robust platform for multi-disciplinary and multi-site research. In 2018 we formalized a collaborative partnership to support research with seven institutions in China to address future challenges and unanswered questions contributing to China’s health care reform:

    • Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Institute of Population & Labor Economics
    • Fudan University, School of Public Health
    • Shandong University, School of Health Management
    • Sichuan University, West China School of Public Health
    • Sun Yat-Sen University, School of Public Health
    • Tsinghua University, Institute for Hospital Management
    • Xi’an Jiatong University, School of Public Policy and Administration

Executive Education programs with key government agencies for health in China bring together leading academics from Harvard and peer institutions in China to help Chinese policy makers address targeted challenges in the financing and delivery of health care in China.

Through our Visiting Scholars program, we host rising scholars as well as established academic researchers from peer institutions in China as part of our commitment to advance cooperation and grow academic talent in China.

Lastly, a monthly seminar at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health provides an opportunity for invited faculty, researchers, and policy makers from China or Harvard to present current work on health and China.

Contact us!

Harvard China Health Partnership
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Department of Global Health and Population
Building 1, Room 1210
665 Huntington Ave
Boston, MA 02115
United States

Email: china@hsph.harvard.edu