Harsha Thirumurthy

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Professor of Medical Ethics and Health Policy

Ph.D., Economics, Yale University, 2006

I am trained as a development economist and began my research career using longitudinal household survey data that my colleagues and I collected in Kenya. I used these data along with a non-experimental study design to examine the effects of improvements in the health of HIV-infected adults (due to provision of HIV treatment) on employment outcomes of those adults as well as nutrition and schooling outcomes of children living with those adults. This research led to publications in the Journal of Human Resources, Journal of Public Economics, and Economic Development and Cultural Change. My research focus builds directly on the PDB Program areas, STD/HIV/AIDS and Population Economics.  My work aligns with PDB’s research focus in Demography, Behavioral and Social Science Research and Population Health.  Recent research (with partial support from an NICHD K01 award, K01HD061605) has tested innovative behavioral interventions to increase utilization of HIV prevention services and that has measured individuals’ subjective expectations about survival and health.  I have led research on the use of economic incentives in Africa, particularly an RCT of small incentives to promote uptake of medical male circumcision in Kenya (published in JAMA in 2014). My research expertise and my strong collaborative record with clinicians and translational scientists qualifies me to serve as an Active Research Scientist at the PSC. Over the past 10 years I have published over 60 articles in economics and biomedical journals. I have become a leading expert on economic and behavioral aspects of HIV/AIDS in Africa, having served on the program committee of the International AIDS Conference in 2013 and 2016. Prior to my appointment at Penn, I maintained expertise in population studies through engagement in the Carolina Population Center and ongoing service as a standing member of the NICHD Population Sciences Subcommittee. The PSC represents an important resource for collaboration and integration of my research interests in household decision-making, subjective expectations, health behavior, and population health. 

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