Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding (Eric Ding) is an epidemiologist, health economist, and nutrition scientist at the Harvard Chan School of Public Health. He is currently a Visiting Scientist (after previously holding full time positions at Harvard between 2004-2018).
His work focuses on the intersection of public health and public policy. He also currently works on behavioral interventions for prevention, Medicare cost and quality improvements, drug safety, evidence guideline improvements for nutrition, diabetes/obesity prevention, and public health programs in the US. He has further expertise in systematic reviews, public health program design, policy implementation, and leveraging big data for improving health systems.
He was noted in his role as a whistleblower and leader of a key two-year-long investigation into the controversial drug safety and risk data of Vioxx®, Celebrex®, and Bextra® that drew FDA and national attention. Highlighted and express-published in JAMA, as corresponding joint-first author, he was also recognized for his role in the New York Times, and in the book Poison Pills: The Untold Story of the Vioxx Drug Scandal.
A childhood survivor and cancer prevention advocate, he was called one of the 'Facebook philanthropists', founding the 6 million member online Campaign for Cancer Prevention, featured in Newsweek. In total online reach, he directed disease prevention advocacy platforms with over 12 million members on Facebook Causes. He led the first ever direct-to-science online crowdfunding initiative, fundraising over $500,000 (median public donation $15) for medical research, and featured in the New York Times.
He founded Toxin Alert as the first geo-social network and public alert system for drinking water toxic contamination, as featured in WIRED. He established the Toxin Alert Drinking Water Database with 500,000-locations nationwide for informing the public about water hazards in communities. For his work, he was awarded the 2017 Mark V. Anderson Leadership Award from Sigma Chi Foundation.
He has published in leading journals, including the New England Journal of Medicine, Journal of the American Medical Association, The Lancet, and Health Policy. His 150+ publications have received 62,000 citations (H-Index 72). As a Web of Science Highly Cited Researcher, He was ranked in 2018 as among the Top 1% of all scientists worldwide.
Altogether, his competitively awarded projects as PI/Director have received over $10 million in funding. A World Economic Forum Global Shaper, he has chaired committees for the Health Directorate of the European Commission, advised the World Health Organization, Denmark Ministry of Health, Slovenia Ministry of Health, and served as member of the Global Burden of Disease Project. He also advised and successfully convinced the C-suite leaders of a major Fortune 100 food/beverage company to adopt the WHO recommendations for added sugars.
He also previously led a large 'moneyball' study of Major League Baseball. Invited to Google Tech Talk, his study comprising 500,000+ player-years of data over 130-years demonstrated for the first time the excess mortality risks of body mass index among athletes, especially higher risks among home-run hitters.
He is also the inventor of several scientific innovations: Evidenced Formal Coverage Index for universal healthcare, Lipophilic Index, the Spaghetti Plot method for non-linear meta-analysis, and the Isotemporal Substitution model, the gold-standard for behavioral activity research. Furthermore, he pioneered and co-developed major community health interventions which have been implemented by the CDC in Kentucky, that served 56 counties in Kentucky, as well as co-developed the obesity/diabetes prevention program currently used by the UN to serve over 100 medical clinics and 600,000 refugees in the Middle East.
Among notable honors, he was awarded: the 2014 Global Health Project of the Year Prize by the Consortium of Universities for Global Health, the 2015 American Heart Association's Scott Grundy Excellence Award, the 2012 Outstanding Young Leader Award from the Boston Chamber of Commerce, named among Craig Newmark’s “16 People and Organizations Changing the World in 2012”, the 2008 Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship, and his work recognized as ‘Best of the American Heart Association’, thrice, in 2013, 2014, 2015.
He has been featured and cited among 5 dozen news outlets. He is a frequent media commentator on national radio and international television with over 2 dozen appearances. He was also personally profiled in several books including (click to read): CauseWired (Watson, 2008), Poison Pills (Nesi, 2008), Zilch (Lublin, 2010), The Networked Nonprofit (Kanter and Fine, 2010), Shift & Reset (Reich, 2011), and Thinfluence (Willett, 2014).
He graduated from The Johns Hopkins University with Honors in Public Health and Phi Beta Kappa. He then completed his dual doctorate* in epidemiology and doctorate in nutrition, as the youngest graduate to complete his dual program at age 23 from Harvard SPH. Teaching at Harvard for over 15 years, he has advised and mentored 2 dozen students, and lectured in more than a dozen graduate and undergraduate courses, for which he received the Derek Bok Distinction in Teaching Award from Harvard College.
(*Earned the legacy Sc.D. Doctor of Science, which was phased out by Harvard University beginning in 2016. The outdated Sc.D. in Epidemiology and Sc.D. in Nutrition are no longer conferred at Harvard, and each have been respectively replaced by the Ph.D. degree at Harvard. Thus, in everyday parlance, it has now become common practice that Harvard graduates holding grandfathered Sc.D. degrees often use 'Ph.D.' in lay/general audience settings).