Ronald C. Kessler, PhD

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

Dr. 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 700 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 National Academy 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 U.S., and 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 U.S. 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.

A full description of Dr. Kessler's research can be found on his Harvard Scholar website

  • Publications
  • Honors & Awards
  • Websites
  • CV

Honors and Awards


APA Presidential Citation  


Honorary Fellow, American Psychiatric Association


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


Most-cited Author of High-impact Papers in Psychiatry Since 1997 (ISI Essential Science Indicators)


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


American Psychopathological Association, Paul Hoch Award

1995 - 1999 NIMH Research Scientist Award
1987 - 1997 NIMH MERIT Award
1984 - 1994 NIMH Research Scientist Development Award


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