College of Health and Human Services
George Mason University
George Mason University Mason
George Mason University

Kathryn Jacobsen, PhD, MPH


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Kathryn H. Jacobsen, MPH, PhD, is a professor specializing in global health epidemiology.  Her research focuses on health transitions, the shifts in public health priorities that occur as a result of socioeconomic, environmental, and other changes.  Dr. Jacobsen is an expert on the global epidemiology of hepatitis A virus, and she uses meta-analyses, mathematical modeling, and other methods to examine risk factors for HAV infection and to track and predict shifts in country-level seroprevalence rates and endemicity patterns.  Her long-running projects at the Mercy Hospital Research Laboratory in Sierra Leone are testing new methods for infectious disease surveillance, and they have documented the emergence of diseases like chikungunya and Ebola in the region.  

Her research portfolio also includes analyses of vaccine attitudes and policies, social media and health communication, adolescent health and risk behaviors, injury epidemiology, and the growing burden from non-communicable diseases in low- and middle-income countries.  She has conducted survey research in Ecuador, Guatemala, Malawi, Mexico, Sierra Leone, Zambia, and other countries.  She is also a contributor to the Global Burden of Disease project, a massive global effort to generate up-to-date health metrics for every country in the world in order to provide the foundation for improved health policy and practice.  Her research website provides a current list of projects and publications. 

At Mason, Prof. Jacobsen teaches courses in global health, infectious disease prevention and control, epidemiology, and research methods.  She is the author of two popular textbooks, Introduction to Global Health and Introduction to Health Research Methods: A Practical Guide.  In 2013, she was recognized with George Mason University’s Teaching Excellence Award.  

Dr. Jacobsen has served as an expert advisor to the World Health Organization (WHO), Gavi, UNICEF, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), and other international health organizations.  She is a frequent health and medical commentator for print, online, and television media. 


PhD, Epidemiology, University of Michigan

MPH, International Health, University of Michigan

BS, Physics, Wheaton College


Research Interests

  • Epidemiology
  • Global Health
  • Infectious Disease Epidemiology
  • Global Burden of Disease


Dr. Jacobsen has authored more than 100 peer-reviewed journal articles in the past five years.  Her research website contains an up-to-date list of publications.

Select 2018 & 2019 Publications

Itote EW, Fleming LC, Mallinson RK, Gaffney KF, Jacobsen KH. Knowledge of intrapartum care among obstetric care providers in rural Kenya. International Health. 2019. [DOI:10.1093/inthealth/ihy078]

Koroma MM, Kamara MA, Keita N, Lokossou VL, Sundufu AJ, Jacobsen KH. Access to essential medications and equipment for obstetric and neonatal primary care in Bombali district, Sierra Leone. World Medical & Health Policy. 2019.

McCoy JD, Painter JE, Jacobsen KH. Perceptions of vaccination within a Christian homeschooling community in Pennsylvania. Vaccine. 2019. [DOI:10.1016/j.vaccine.2018.09.036]

Tao D, McGill B, Hamerly T, Kobayashi T, Khare P, Dziedzic A, Leski T, Holtz A, Shull B, Jedlicka AE, Walzer A, Slowey PD, Slowey CC, Nsango SE, Stenger D, Chaponda M, Mulenga M, Jacobsen KH, Sullivan DJ, Ryan SJ, Ansumana R, Moss WJ, Morlais I, Dinglasan RR. A saliva-based rapid test to quantify the infectious subclinical malaria parasite reservoir. Science Translational Medicine. 2019 Jan 2; 11(473):eaan4479. [DOI:10.1126/scitranslmed.aan4479]

Delamater PL, Street EJ, Leslie TF, Yang YT, Jacobsen KH. Complexity of the basic reproduction number (R0). Emerging Infectious Diseases. 2019 Jan; 25(1):1-4. [DOI:10.3201/eid2501.171901]

Jacobsen KH. Pandemics. In: Juergensmeyer M, Steger MB, Sassen S, Faessel V, editors. Oxford Handbook of Global Studies. Oxford: Oxford University Press; 2019, p. 647-662. [DOI:10.1093/oxfordhb/9780190630577.013.30]

Jacobsen KH. Globalization and the changing epidemiology of hepatitis A virus. Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Medicine. 2018 Oct; 8(10):a031716. = In: Lemon SM, Walker CM, editors. Enteric Hepatitis Viruses. Cold Spring Harbor, NY: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press; 2018, p. 217-228. [DOI:10.1101/cshperspect.a031716]

Mulvaney SP, Fitzgerald LA, Hamdan LJ, Ringeisen BR, Petersen ER, Compton JR, McAuliff NL, Leski T, Taitt CR, Stenger DA, Myers CA, Hansen E, Ricketts M, Hoegberg C, Homdayjanakul K, Ansumana R, Lamin JM, Bangura U, Lahai J, Baio V, Limmathurotsakul D, Wongsuvan G, Hantrakun V, Wacharapluesadee S, Mungaomklang A, Putcharoen O, Yatoom P, Kruthakool K, Hontz R, Mores C, Siles C, Morrison A, Mayo M, Currie BM, Jacobsen KH, Quinn K, Blutman J, Amariei F, Hannan J. Rapid design and fielding of four diagnostic technologies in Sierra Leone, Thailand, Peru, and Australia: successes and challenges faced introducing these biosensors. Sensing and Bio-Sensing Research. 2018 Sept; 20:22-33. [DOI:10.1016/j.sbsr.2018.06.003]

Plaster AN, Painter JE, Tjersland DH, Jacobsen KH. University students’ knowledge, attitudes, and sources of information about Zika virus. Journal of Community Health. 2018 Aug; 43(4):647-655. [DOI:10.1007/s10900-017-0463-z]

Sinkala D, Fleming LC, Silwimba F, Jacobsen KH. Health services access for young children with sickle cell anaemia in the Chilubi district of Zambia. Medical Journal of Zambia. 2018 July-Sept; 45(3):134-138. [AJOL:179990]

Zook M, Wollersheim D, Erbas B, Jacobsen KH. Integrating spatial analysis into policy formulation: a case study examining traffic exposure and asthma. World Medical & Health Policy. 2018 Mar; 10(1):99 -110. [DOI:10.1002/wmh3.258]

Vraga EK, Stefanidis A, Croitoru A, Crooks AT, Delamater PL, Lamprianidis G, Pfoser D, Radzikowski J, Jacobsen KH. Cancer and social media: a comparison of traffic about breast cancer, prostate cancer, and other reproductive cancers on Twitter and Instagram. Journal of Health Communication. 2018 Feb; 23(2):181 -189. [DOI:10.1080/10810730.2017.1421730]

Ansumana R, Dariano DF 3rd, Jacobsen KH, Leski TA, Lamin JM, Lahai J, Bangura U, Bockarie AS, Taitt C, Yasuda C, Bockarie MJ, Stenger DA. Seroprevalence of hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) in Bo, Sierra Leone, 2012 -2013. BMC Research Notes. 2018 (Feb 8); 11:113. [DOI:10.1186/s13104-018-3218-8]

AbuAlula NA, Milligan RA, Rodan MF, Jacobsen KH. Self-rated health among adolescents with type 1 diabetes in the T1D Exchange Clinic Registry. Journal of Diabetes and Its Complications. 2018 Jan; 32(1):83 -88. [DOI:10.1016/j.jdiacomp.2017.09.013]

GBD Tuberculosis Collaborators (Murray CJL, et al.). Global, regional, and national burden of tuberculosis, 1990 -2016: results from the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors 2016 Study. Lancet Infectious Diseases. 2018 Dec; 18(12):1329 -1349. [DOI:10.1016/S1473-3099(18)30625-X]

GBD 2017 Cause of Death Collaborators. Global, regional, and national age-sex-specific mortality for 282 causes of death in 195 countries and territories, 1980 -2017: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017. The Lancet. 2018 Nov 10; 392(10158):1736 -1788. [DOI:10.1016/S0140-6736(18)32203-7]

GBD 2017 Disease and Injury Incidence and Prevalence Collaborators. Global, regional, and national incidence, prevalence, and years lived with disability for 354 diseases and injuries for 195 countries and territories, 1990 -2017: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017. The Lancet. 2018 Nov 10; 392(10159):1789 -1858. [DOI:10.1016/S0140-6736(18)32279-7].

GBD 2017 DALYs and HALE Collaborators. Global, regional, and national disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs) for 359 diseases and injuries and healthy life expectancy (HALE) for 195 countries and territories, 1990 -2017: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017. The Lancet. 2018 Nov 10; 392(10158):1859 -1922. [DOI:10.1016/S0140-6736(18)32335-3]

GBD 2017 Risk Factor Collaborators. Global, regional, and national comparative risk assessment of 84 behavioural, environmental and occupational, and metabolic risks or clusters of risks for 195 countries and territories, 1990 -2017: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017. The Lancet. 2018 Nov 10; 392(10159):1923 -1994. [DOI:10.1016/S0140-6736(18)32225-6]

GBD 2017 SDG Collaborators. Measuring progress and projecting attainment of the health-related Sustainable Development Goals in 195 countries and territories: an analysis from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017. The Lancet. 2018 Nov 10; 392(10159):2091 -2138. [DOI:10.1016/S0140-6736(18)32281-5]

GBD 2016 Healthcare Access and Quality Collaborators. Measuring performance on the Healthcare Access and Quality Index for 195 countries and territories and selected subnational locations: a systematic analysis from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2016. The Lancet. 2018 June 2; 391(10136):2236 -2271. [DOI:10.1016/S0140-6736(18)30994-2]

GBD 2015 Eastern Mediterranean Region Transportation Injuries Collaborators. Transport injuries and deaths in the Eastern Mediterranean Region: findings from the Global Burden of Disease 2015 Study. International Journal of Public Health. 2018 May; 63(Suppl 1):187 -198. [DOI:10.1007/s00038-017-0987-0]

GBD Tuberculosis Collaborators. The global burden of tuberculosis: results from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2015. Lancet Infectious Diseases. 2018 Mar; 18(3):261 -284. [DOI:10.1016/S1473-3099(17)30703-X]