M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D.
School: Milken Institute School of Public Health
Department: Global Health
Carlos Santos-Burgoa is a Professor of Global Health and Environmental and Occupational Health, and Director of Global Health Policy at GWU. He studies public health functions, and their role in equity, including the organizational development of health authorities and regulatory agencies. His interest is in toxic chemicals risk analysis, management and control of their population and climate impacts, and public health approaches to crises in epidemics and disasters in developing economies.
He works on risk factors leading to chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs), environmental conditions including chemical substances, and climate change and disasters. He has worked on risk and impact communication, and social marketing of health. He supports Latin American countries’ institutional capacity, and regional and global intergovernmental health organizations, international trade. He collaborated with the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine on the report “Public health regulation abroad”. He is co-convener of the regulatory working group of Children in All Policies 2030 (CAP2030) with FLACSO, UCL, UNICEF, and WHO. He was the principal advisor to the Comprehensive National Policy on Chemicals Management for Mexico’s General Health Council. He lead the study on attribution for the excess mortality from Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, contributing to the knowledge required given the increased frequency and intensity of natural disasters from climate change. He contributed to the management of COVID-19 considering criteria for resource allocation and excess mortality surveillance systems at his university, at the US National Capital Region, and advising Mexico’s General Health Council.
His professional practice has led him to confront public health crises of national and international concern. This included the identification of excess mortality from air pollution in Mexico City (1991), the lead intoxication in the smelter town of Coahuila (1998-2001), the Popocatepetl eruption (2001), the cyanide incident in Hidalgo (2001), the toxic algal bloom massive intoxication (2002), the Villahermosa Industrial City flooding (2007), the Influenza A(H1N1) pandemic – from the identification to the nonpharmaceutical interventions – (2009), the excess mortality from Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico (2017 and 2020), and the COVID-19 pandemic (2020-22) supporting the University intervention and policy design in Mexico. He is currently developing the Cohort of Health Workers at the IMSS in Mexico and he is on sabbatical with an initiative on Unlocking Public Health Regulatory Institutions.
He practiced clinical medicine in Mexico City´s slums, the southern indigenous and Mayan midlands communities. He co-led the Essential Health Needs on Health project in COPLAMAR, Mexico, a milestone in health systems transformation towards a universal health system and planning with an equity lens. His doctoral dissertation identified the carcinogenesis of 1,3-butadiene in a multinational occupational cohort, seminal research that generated a rigorous occupational health standard and further air pollution monitoring of this pollutant. His research includes atmospheric and indoor air pollution, mining, heavy metals, ecosystem health, pesticides, infectious diseases, and industrial environmental and occupational health. He was Dean of the School of Public Health of Mexico at the National Institute of Public Health (NIPH), Director General of the Health Environment and Work Institute, Director General at Mexico´s Ministry of Health, and Senior Advisor and Acting Department Director at the Pan American Health Organization (WHO office for Americas).
At Mexico´s Minister of Health he developed the Federal Commission for Sanitary Risk Protection, the Strategy for Health Services Provision Organizational Reform, and the Health Promotion Operation Model, seeking to empower people’s capacity on organizing and acting on health. He was a country representative to NAFTA side Agreements, to the Earth Summit of Johannesburg (2002), and to bilateral environmental, food, and drugs negotiations with the USA and Canada. As an international officer he contributed to regional strategies and resolutions (Health and Human Security, Urban Health, NCDs, Childhood Obesity, and the draft Environmental Health Strategy), and to three world summits negotiations of the outcome documents from the UN-High-Level Meeting on NCDs, the regional consultation for the World Conference on Social Determinants of Health and the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Río+20).
He holds an MD from Mexico´s National Autonomous University, and a Ph.D. in environmental epidemiology from Johns Hopkins University. He is a Graduate of the Program for Senior Executive Business Management (AD-2) at the Pan-American Institute of Business Administration.
At GWU he trained eight generations of global health policy practitioners and directly advised more than 33 master and doctoral dissertations. There he teaches Global Health Policy Analysis, Cross-Cultural Approaches to Global Health, National and Global Public Health Systems, Global Control Programs on Chronic Diseases, and in collaboration with the School of Public Health of Mexico at the National Institute of Public Health, the course on Introduction to Public Health Regulatory Institutions. This adds to his previous experience with 24 other doctoral or master’s dissertations at NIPH and extensive teaching on longitudinal epidemiological designs. He has presented multiple keynote speeches and scientific papers at multiple scientific congresses. He has published more than 74 peer-reviewed papers, 38 technical reports, and 35 book chapters. He is an elected fellow of the National Academy of Medicine of Mexico, and of the Collegium Ramazzini. He has received several awards, and he appreciates especially the “2006 Distinguished Alumni Award” from Johns Hopkins University.