Ronald C. Kessler, PhD

Ronald C. Kessler, PhD is the McNeil Family Professor of Health Care Policy at Harvard Medical School.

Kessler’s research deals broadly with the social determinants of mental health and illness as studied from an epidemiological perspective. He is the author of over 600 publications and the recipient of many awards for his research, including the Senior Scientist and MERIT awards from the National Institute of Mental Health. He has been rated as the most widely cited researcher in the world in the field of psychiatry for each of the past ten years and is a member of both the Institute of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences.

Dr. Kessler is the Principal Investigator of the US National Comorbidity Survey, the first nationally representative survey of the prevalence and correlates of mental disorders in the US, and a Co-Director of the World Health Organization’s World Mental Health Survey Initiative, a series of comparative community epidemiological surveys of the prevalence and correlates of mental disorders and treatment for these disorders in 28 countries around the world. In addition to his epidemiological studies, Kessler is involved in evaluating a number of innovative programs for the prevention and treatment of mental illness in high-risk segments of the population. Finally, Dr. Kessler is the Principal Investigator of the Harvard Medical School site for Army STARRS, a research program funded by the US Army and the National Institute of Mental Health to study risk and protective factors for suicide among Army personnel.

Dr. Kessler earned his PhD in sociology from New York University in 1975. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship in psychiatric epidemiology at the University of Wisconsin before joining the faculty at the University of Michigan in 1979. He was a Professor of Sociology and a Program Director at Michigan’s Institute for Social Research at the time he took his current position at Harvard Medical School in 1994.

Honors and Awards

1984 - 1994          NIMH Research Scientist Development Award

1987 - 1997          NIMH MERIT Award

1995 - 1999          NIMH Research Scientist Award

1997                       American Psychopathological Association, Paul Hoch Award

1997                       Rema Lapouse Mental Health Epidemiology Award of the American Public Health                                                    Association

1997                       Most-cited author of High-Impact Papers in Psychiatry since 1997 (ISI Essential Science                                        Indicators)

1999                       Honorary Fellow, American Psychiatric Association

2005                       APA Presidential Citation  

Associated Websites

Army Starrs:

The World Mental Health Survey Initiative:

The World Mental health Composite International Diagnostic Interview:

The National Comorbidity Survey:

World Health Organization Health and Work Performance Questionnaire:

Hurricane Katrina Community Advisory Group:


Ron Kessler's CV