George Mason University
George Mason University Mason
George Mason University

Kathryn Jacobsen, PhD, MPH

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Kathryn H. Jacobsen, MPH, PhD, is a professor specializing in global health epidemiology.  Her research focuses on health transitions, the shifts in public health priorities that occur as a result of socioeconomic, environmental, and other changes.  Dr. Jacobsen is an expert on the global epidemiology of hepatitis A virus, and she uses meta-analyses, mathematical modeling, and other methods to examine risk factors for HAV infection and to track and predict shifts in country-level seroprevalence rates and endemicity patterns.  Her long-running projects at the Mercy Hospital Research Laboratory in Sierra Leone are testing new methods for infectious disease surveillance, and they have documented the emergence of diseases like chikungunya and Ebola in the region.  

Her research portfolio also includes analyses of vaccine attitudes and policies, social media and health communication, adolescent health and risk behaviors, injury epidemiology, and the growing burden from non-communicable diseases in low- and middle-income countries.  She has conducted survey research in Ecuador, Guatemala, Malawi, Mexico, Sierra Leone, Zambia, and other countries.  She is also a contributor to the Global Burden of Disease project, a massive global effort to generate up-to-date health metrics for every country in the world in order to provide the foundation for improved health policy and practice.  Her research website provides a current list of projects and publications. 

At Mason, Prof. Jacobsen teaches courses in global health, infectious disease prevention and control, epidemiology, and research methods.  She is the author of two popular textbooks, Introduction to Global Health and Introduction to Health Research Methods: A Practical Guide.  In 2013, she was recognized with George Mason University’s Teaching Excellence Award.  

Dr. Jacobsen has served as an expert advisor to the World Health Organization (WHO), Gavi, UNICEF, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), and other international health organizations.  She is a frequent health and medical commentator for print, online, and television media. 


PhD, Epidemiology, University of Michigan

MPH, International Health, University of Michigan

BS, Physics, Wheaton College


Research Interests

  • Epidemiology
  • Global Health
  • Infectious Disease Epidemiology
  • Global Burden of Disease


Dr. Jacobsen has authored more than 100 peer-reviewed journal articles in the past five years.  Her research website contains an up-to-date list of publications.

Selected 2019–2020 Publications 

  • Jacobsen KH, Zeraye HA, Bisesi MS, Gartin M, Malouin RA, Waggett CE. Master of Public Health (MPH) concentrations in global health in 2020: preparing culturally competent professionals to address health disparities in the context of globalization. Health Promotion Practice. 2020. DOI: 10.1177/1524839920913546 
  • Oh KM, Park B, Jacobsen KH. A qualitative analysis of barriers to colorectal cancer screening among Korean Americans. Journal of Cancer Education. 2020. DOI: 10.1007/s13187-019-01621-3 
  • Andani A, van Elten TM, Bunge EM, Marano C, Salgado F, Jacobsen KH. Hepatitis A epidemiology in Latin America: a 2020 view from a systematic literature review. Expert Review of Vaccines. 2020. DOI: 10.1080/14760584.2020.1813575 
  • Vraga EK, Jacobsen KH. Strategies for effective health communication during the coronavirus pandemic and future emerging infectious disease events. World Medical & Health Policy. 2020. DOI: 10.1002/wmh3.359 
  • Jacobsen GD, Jacobsen KH. Statewide covid-19 stay-at-home orders and population mobility in the United States. World Medical & Health Policy. 2020. DOI: 10.1002/wmh3.350 
  • Jacobsen KH, Hay MC, Manske JM, Waggett CE. Curricular models and learning objectives for undergraduate minors in global health. Annals of Global Health. 2020 (Aug 19); 86(1):102. DOI: 10.5334/aogh.2963 
  • Waggett CE, Jacobsen KH. Global health and public health majors and minors at 411 universities, 2019–2020. Annals of Global Health. 2020 (June 19); 86(1):65. DOI: 10.5334/aogh.2837 
  • Jacobsen KH, Vraga EK.  Improving communication about covid-19 and other emerging infectious diseases.  European Journal of Clinical Investigation.  2020 May; 50(5):e13225. DOI: 10.1111/eci.13225 
  • Jacobsen KH. Will covid-19 generate global preparedness? The Lancet. 2020 Mar 28; 395(10229):1013–1014. DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30559-6 
  • Jacobsen KH, Li X, Gartin M, Malouin R, Waggett CE. Master of Science (MS) and Master of Arts (MA) degrees in global health: applying interdisciplinary research skills to the study of globalization-related health disparities. Pedagogy in Health Promotion. 2020 Mar; 6(1):14–22. DOI: 10.1177/2373379919895032 
  • Leski TA, Taitt CR, Swaray AG, Bangura U, Reynolds N, Holtz A, Yasuda C, Lahai J, Lamin JM, Baio V, Jacobsen KH, Ansumana R, Stenger DA. Use of real-time multiplex PCR, malaria rapid diagnostic test and microscopy to investigate the prevalence of Plasmodium species among febrile hospital patients in Sierra Leone. Malaria Journal. 2020 (Feb 21); 19:84. DOI: 10.1186/s12936-020-03163-2 
  • Sauter SR, Kim LP, Jacobsen KH. Loneliness and friendlessness among adolescents in 25 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Child and Adolescent Mental Health. 2020 Feb; 25(1):21–27. DOI: 10.1111/camh.12358 
  • Cummings PR, Cummings DB, Jacobsen KH. Obstructed labor as an underlying cause of maternal mortality in Kalukembe, Angola, 2017. Journal of Global Health Reports. 2019 (Nov 6); 3:e2019065. DOI: 10.29392/joghr.3.e2019065 
  • Doobay-Persaud A, Evert J, DeCamp M, Evans CT, Jacobsen KH, Sheneman NE, Goldstein JL, Nelson BD. Extent, nature and consequences of performing outside scope of training in global health. Globalization & Health. 2019 (Nov 1); 15:60. DOI: 10.1186/s12992-019-0506-6 
  • McCoy JD, Painter JE, Jacobsen KH. Perceptions of vaccination within a Christian homeschooling community in Pennsylvania. Vaccine. 2019 Sept 10; 37(38):5770–5776. DOI: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2018.09.036 
  • Jacobsen KH, Zeraye HA, Bisesi MS, Gartin M, Malouin RA, Waggett CE. Master of Public Health (MPH) global health concentration competencies: preparing culturally-skilled practitioners to serve internationally, nationally, and locally. American Journal of Public Health. 2019 Sept; 109(9):1189–1190. DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.2019.305208 
  • Doobay-Persaud A, Evert J, DeCamp M, Evans CT, Jacobsen KH, Sheneman NE, Goldstein JL, Nelson BD. Practising beyond one’s scope while working abroad. The Lancet Global Health. 2019 Aug; 7(8):e1009–1010. DOI: 10.1016/S2214-109X(19)30291-8 
  • Hillson R, Coates AR, Alejandre JD, Jacobsen KH, Ansumana R, Bockarie AS, Bangura U, Lamin JM, Stenger DA. Estimating the size of urban populations using Landsat images: a case study of Bo, Sierra Leone, West Africa. International Journal of Health Geographics. 2019 (July 11); 18:16. DOI: 10.1186/s12942-019-0180-1 
  • Itote EW, Fleming LC, Mallinson RK, Gaffney KF, Jacobsen KH. Knowledge of intrapartum care among obstetric care providers in rural Kenya. International Health. 2019 July; 11(4):258–264. DOI: 10.1093/inthealth/ihy078 
  • Robertson DL, Babin LM, Krall JR, von Fricken ME, Baghi H, Jacobsen KH. The association between hunter-killed deer and Lyme disease in New Jersey, 2000–2014. EcoHealth. 2019 June; 16(2):330–337. DOI: 10.1007/s10393-019-01401-x 
  • Koroma MM, Kamara MA, Keita N, Lokossou VL, Sundufu AJ, Jacobsen KH. Access to essential medications and equipment for obstetric and neonatal primary care in Bombali district, Sierra Leone. World Medical & Health Policy. 2019 Mar; 11(1):8–23. DOI: 10.1002/wmh3.295 
  • Tao D, McGill B, Hamerly T, Kobayashi T, Khare P, Dziedzic A, Leski T, Holtz A, Shull B, Jedlicka AE, Walzer A, Slowey PD, Slowey CC, Nsango SE, Stenger D, Chaponda M, Mulenga M, Jacobsen KH, Sullivan DJ, Ryan SJ, Ansumana R, Moss WJ, Morlais I, Dinglasan RR. A saliva-based rapid test to quantify the infectious subclinical malaria parasite reservoir. Science Translational Medicine. 2019 Jan 2; 11(473):eaan4479. DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aan4479 
  • Delamater PL, Street EJ, Leslie TF, Yang YT, Jacobsen KH. Complexity of the basic reproduction number (R0). Emerging Infectious Diseases. 2019 Jan; 25(1):1–4. DOI: 10.3201/eid2501.171901 
  • Jacobsen KH. Pandemics. In: Juergensmeyer M, Steger MB, Sassen S, Faessel V, editors. Oxford Handbook of Global Studies. Oxford: Oxford University Press; 2019, p. 647-662. DOI: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780190630577.013.30 
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