Professor David Heymann

Distinguished Fellow, Global Health Programme

Headshot of David Heymann


David Heymann is a distinguished fellow in the Global Health programme.

Previously he was the World Health Organization’s assistant director-general for health security and environment, and representative of the director-general for polio eradication.

From 1998 to 2003 he was executive director of the WHO Communicable Diseases Cluster, during which he headed the global response to SARS, and prior to that was director for the WHO programme on emerging and other communicable diseases.

Earlier experiences at WHO include chief of research activities in the WHO global programme on AIDS.

Before joining WHO he worked for 13 years as a medical epidemiologist in sub-Saharan Africa, on assignment from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), where he participated in the first and second outbreaks of Ebola hemorrhagic fever, and supported ministries of health in research aimed at better control of malaria, measles, tuberculosis and other infectious diseases.

Prior to joining CDC he worked in India for two years as a medical epidemiologist in the WHO smallpox eradication programme.

David is currently a professor of infectious disease epidemiology, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. He is also an elected fellow of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies (US) and the Academy of Medical Sciences (UK), and has been awarded several public health awards that have provided funding for the establishment of an ongoing mentorship programme at the International Association of Public Health Institutes (IANPHI).

In 2009 he was appointed an honorary Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) for service to global public health.

He has also been awarded the 2004 American Public Health Association Award for Excellence, the 2005 Donald Mackay Award from the American Society for Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, and the 2007 Heinz Award on the Human Condition.

David has been published in more than 145 scientific articles on infectious diseases and related issues in peer-reviewed medical and scientific journals, and authored several chapters on infectious diseases in medical textbooks.

Past experience

2010 - present Professor, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
2009-19 Head, Centre on Global Health Security, Chatham House
2009-17 Chair, Health Protection Agency, UK / Public Health England
2003-09 Assistant Director-General for Health Security, Environment, and World Representative of the Director-General for Polio Eradication, World Health Organization (WHO)
1998-2003 Executive Director, Communicable Diseases Cluster, WHO
1995-98 Director, Emerging and other Communicable Diseases, WHO
1988-95 Chief of research activities, WHO Global Programme on AIDS
1979 - 89 Medical epidemiologist in sub-Saharan Africa (Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Malawi, and the Democratic Republic of Congo - formerly Zaire), US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
1977 - 79 Medical epidemiologist in India, WHO Smallpox Eradication Programme