Faculty member Gregg Gonsalves ’11, ’17 Ph.D., an epidemiologist and global health advocate is among the 25 individuals chosen as a 2018 MacArthur Fellow.

Gonsalves co-chairs the faculty steering committee for the Global Health Studies program—one of Yale College’s Multidisciplinary Academic Programs—which is part of the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs.

The MacArthur Fellowship — informally referred to as the “genius grant” — is a $625,000, no-strings-attached award to “extraordinarily talented and creative individuals as an investment in their potential,” according to the MacArthur Foundation. In addition to exceptional creativity, the award recognizes the recipients’ “promise for important advances” and subsequent creative work based on their track record of accomplishments.

MacArthur Fellows may use their fellowship to advance their expertise, engage in new work, or to change fields or alter the direction of their careers. This year’s recipients include writers, artists, a choreographer, a community organizer, a psychologist, a chemist, and a mathematician, among others.

“Working in diverse fields, from the arts and sciences to public health and civil liberties, these 25 MacArthur Fellows are solving long-standing scientific and mathematical problems, pushing art forms into new and emerging territories, and addressing the urgent needs of under-resourced communities,” said Cecilia Conrad, managing director of the MacArthur Fellows Program. “Their exceptional creativity inspires hope in us all.”

Nominees for the award are brought to the program’s attention through a changing pool of external nominators chosen from a broad range of fields and areas of interest. Nominations are evaluated by an independent selection committee composed of about a dozen leaders in the arts, sciences, humanities professions, and for-profit and nonprofit communities. Typically, 20 to 30 fellows are selected each year. Since 1981, 1,014 people have been named MacArthur Fellows.

Gonsalves, an assistant professor of epidemiology (microbial diseases) and adjunct professor of law at Yale Law School, is co-director of the Global Health Justice Partnerships (GHJP) and the Collaboration for Research Integrity and Transparency. His MacArthur Fellowship biography notes that he integrates “his experiences as a community activist with quantitative analysis and operations research to improve responses to global health public health challenges.”

“For nearly three decades,” said the MacArthur Foundation, “Gonsalves was an HIV/AIDS activist, working with domestic and international organizations such as AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) and the AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa. His efforts to connect the HIV/AIDS community with top-tier researchers and scientists were a critical catalyst to fundamental advances in scientific knowledge of the disease. These experiences deeply informed his later training in epidemiology and current efforts to optimize the effectiveness of health programs for epidemic diseases, particularly within poor and marginalized communities.”

The GLJP Gonsalves co-founded is an interdisciplinary initiative between Yale’s Schools of Public Health and Law to further advance human rights and social justice perspectives in public health and legal research, practice, and teaching.  Currently, GHJP is working with organizations in Brazil to investigate the role of the war on drugs and high incarceration rates on the community burden of TB, as well as to advocate for wider availability of hepatitis C treatment in U.S. prisons. Through these initiatives, Gonsalves is training a new generation of researchers who will work across public health and human rights sectors to correct disparities in global public health.

“My work is designed to give politicians and policy makers the information they need to make better decisions for better public health,” Gonsalves says in a video produced by the MacArthur Foundation to accompany his biography.