Advocacy in Medicine
Physician, epidemiologist, and public health expert Dr. Abdul El-Sayed offers keen insights about the intersections of public health and public policy, inspiring audiences to consider the importance of advocacy in medicine and the healthcare industry.
Healing Politics: A Doctor’s Journey into the Heart of Our Political Epidemic
Public health expert, epidemiologist, and progressive activist Dr. Abdul El-Sayed offers evidence-based insights about the intersection of public health and public policy, diagnosing the challenges facing American and laying out a way forward in this compelling talk.
Dr. Abdul El-Sayed is a physician, epidemiologist, educator, and public communicator. His work leverages narrative to unite teams, build institutions, and move public policy. Across his roles in politics, media, government, and the academy, Abdul has combined storytelling and evidence-driven analysis for impact.
Abdul is a commentator at CNN and a Contributing Editor at the New Republic. His newsletter, The Incision, cuts into the trends shaping our moment. His three books include Healing Politics: A Doctor’s Journey into the Heart of Our Political Epidemic (Abrams Press, 2020), which diagnoses our country’s epidemic of insecurity and the empathy politics we will need to treat it; and Medicare for All: A Citizen’s Guide (Oxford University Press, 2021), co-authored with Dr. Micah Johnson, which offers a no nonsense guide to the policy. He is the host of America Dissected, a podcast by Crooked Media, which goes beyond the headlines to explore the intersection between health and society. He is a Towsley Foundation Policymaker in Residence at the University of Michigan Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, and a Senior Fellow at the FXB Center for Health & Human Rights at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, teaching at the intersection of public health, public policy, and politics. In addition, he is a Scholar in Residence at Wayne State University and American University.
In 2018, Abdul ran for governor of Michigan on an unapologetically progressive platform, advocating for universal healthcare, clean water for all, debt-free and tuition-free higher education, a pathway to 100% renewable energy, and to rebuild the barrier between corporations and government. His bid was endorsed by Senator Bernie Sanders, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, The Nation, and Current Affairs. And though he earned over 340,000 votes, he finished second of three in the Democratic Primary. In 2020, he served as a national surrogate for both Sen. Bernie Sanders in the Democratic Primary, and Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris in the general election. He also served as a Sanders appointee and one of eight members of Vice President Biden’s 2020 Unity Task Force for Healthcare.
He was the youngest health official in a major U.S. city when he was appointed Health Director in the city of Detroit, charged with rebuilding the city’s health department after it was privatized during municipal bankruptcy. Responsible for the health and safety of over 670,000 Detroiters, the Detroit Health Department became a state and national leader in public health innovation and environmental justice, in one of the fastest municipal public health turnarounds in American history. He was awarded “Public Official of the Year” by the Michigan League of Conservation Voters and “40 under 40” by Crain’s Detroit Business.
Abdul is an internationally recognized expert in health policy and health inequalities. He is a Towsley Foundation Policymaker in Residence at the University of Michigan Ford School of Public Policy and Scholar in Residence at American University’s School of Public Affairs where he teaches at the intersection between policy, narrative, politics, and public health. In addition, he has previously served as the DeRoy Visiting Professor at the University of Michigan, a Sine Fellow at American University’s Sine Institute of Policy & Politics, Pritzker Fellow at the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics, Scholar in Residence at Wayne State University, and Assistant Professor of Epidemiology at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, where he was Director of the Columbia University Systems Science Program and Global Research Analytics for Population Health. He has over 100 peer-reviewed publications that have earned over 2,600 citations, including a foundational textbook on Systems Science & Population Health (Oxford University Press, 2016).
Abdul holds a doctorate in Public Health from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar, as well as a medical degree from Columbia University, where he was a Medical Scientist Training Program Fellow and a Soros New Americans Fellow. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa with Highest Distinction from the University of Michigan, where he was chosen to deliver the student commencement speech alongside President Bill Clinton. He was awarded the University of Michigan Bicentennial Alumni Award in 2017.
He is a native Michigander who was born and raised in Metro Detroit, where he lives with his wife, Sarah, a mental health doctor, and daughter Emmalee. He is a proud member of the National Writers Union, AFT Local 477 and 6244, SEIU Local 500, and the AAUP. He enjoys good people, good coffee, good food, sports, and University of Michigan football.