Dr Demaio trained and worked as a medical doctor at The Alfred Hospital in Australia. While practising as a doctor he completed a Masters in Public Health including fieldwork in Cambodia to develop and evaluate a community-based, culturally appropriate health intervention for noncommunicable diseases, particularly diabetes.
In 2010, Alessandro relocated to Denmark where he completed a PhD with the University of Copenhagen, focusing on noncommunicable diseases. His doctoral research was based in Mongolia, working with the Ministry of Health. He designed, led and reported a national epidemiological survey, sampling more than 3500 households to better understand national knowledge, attitudes and practices on noncommunicable diseases and risk factors and provide policy recommendations to address them.
Alessandro held a Postdoctoral Fellowship at Harvard Medical School from 2013 to 2015, and was assistant professor and course director in global health at the Copenhagen School of Global Health, in Denmark. He has established and led the PLOS blog Translational Global Health, and has served on the Advisory Board of the EAT Initiative: the global, multi-stakeholder platform for food, health and environmental sustainability. To date, he has authored over 20 scientific publications and more than 80 blog articles.
In his pro bono work, Dr Demaio co-founded NCDFREE, a global social movement against noncommunicable diseases using social media, short film and leadership events – reaching more than 2.5 million people in its first 18 months. Then, in 2015, he founded festival21, assembling and leading a team of knowledge leaders in staging a massive and unprecedented, free celebration of community, food, culture and future in his hometown Melbourne.
In November 2015, Alessandro joined the Department of Nutrition for Health and Development at the World Health Organization (Geneva), as Medical Officer for noncommunicable conditions and nutrition.
While a staff member of the World Health Organization, Alessandro alone is responsible for the views expressed in this column, and they do not necessarily represent the decisions or policies of the World Health Organization.