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Emily Mendenhall

Provost's Distinguished Associate Professor, Georgetown University

Emily Mendenhall, PhD, MPH is a medical anthropologist and Provost’s Distinguished Associate Professor at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. Her recent book, "Rethinking Diabetes: Entanglements of Trauma, Poverty, and HIV" (Cornell, 2019) involves hundreds of life history among low-income people living with Type 2 Diabetes in Chicago, Delhi, Johannesburg, and Nairobi. The four case studies investigate how social, cultural, and epidemiological factors shape people's experiences and why we need to take these differences seriously when thinking about what drives diabetes and how it affects the lives of the poor. Her first monograph, "Syndemic Suffering: Social Distress, Depression, and Diabetes among Mexican Immigrant Women" (Routledge, 2012) dove deep into 121 life history narratives of women in Chicago who face considerable social distress and duress associated with immigration, poverty, interpersonal violence, social exclusion and longing for companionship, family stress, and financial insecurity. In addition, Dr. Mendenhall has published four-dozen articles on these projects in top journals in anthropology, medicine, and public health. This includes leading a Series of articles on Syndemics in The Lancet in 2017.

In 2017, Dr. Mendenhall was awarded the George Foster Award for Practicing Medical Anthropology by the Society for Medical Anthropology. She also holds an Honorary Researcher position at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, where she has ongoing NIH-funded research and mentors PhD students. Currently she is leading a NIH Fogarty International Center study “Soweto Syndemics”, which is the first population-level study of any syndemic. Previously, the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health Fogarty International Center, South African Medical Research Council, and Northwestern and Georgetown Universities have supported her scholarship. She also spent a decade creating global health curriculum for youth:


  • –present
    Associate Professor of Global Health, Georgetown University