Matthew M. Kavanagh is the director of the Center for Global Health Policy & Politics at the O’Neill Institute and Georgetown School of Health. He is also a visiting professor of law and assistant professor of global health at Georgetown University. 

Kavanagh’s research and policy work sits at the intersection of law, global health, and political science with a focus on the political determinants of health, law, and policy during pandemics like AIDS and COVID-19, and on inequality as a driver of disease. 

A political scientist and legal analyst by training, he has served in a range of roles inside and outside academia, including at the United Nations as deputy executive director ad interim at UNAIDS and as head of policy for several NGOs in the U.S. and Southern Africa. He has been a visiting researcher at the South African Institute for Advanced Constitutional, Public, Human Rights, and International Law in Johannesburg and the University of the West Indies Law Faculty at Cave Hill, while conducting research in South Africa, Malawi, Haiti, Lesotho, India, Barbados and Thailand. Funding for his work has come from the National Science Foundation, USAID, the U.S. Department of State, World Health Organization, Ford Foundation, Open Society Foundations, and others. 

He has served on various scientific and technical advisory bodies for UNAIDS and the World Health Organization and on the council of the American Political Science Association Health Politics and Policy Section. He has presented his research and analysis before the U.N. Special Rapporteur for the Right to Health, members of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee and House Ways and Means Committee, European Parliament, and South African Department of Trade and Industry. 

His work has appeared in The Lancet, Foreign Policy, JAMA, Journal of International Affairs, Studies in Comparative International Development, Health & Human Rights, and other leading journals. He has also been interviewed in outlets, including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, BBC, and Science, on the politics of global health.

Kavanagh holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Pennsylvania, certificate in health law from Penn Law, Masters in communities and policy from Harvard University, and B.A. from Vassar College.


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