Charles Branas, PhD

  • Chair, Department of Epidemiology
  • Gelman Professor of Epidemiology
Profile Headshot


Dr. Branas leads one of the nation's oldest and largest Departments of Epidemiology and is known for his focus on especially challenging health issues and interventions that improve basic determinants of health, such as access to green space, housing, and medical care. He led the first major NIH-funded gun violence research study, and is the founding PI/PI of two CDC-funded injury research centers. His research has been cited by landmark Supreme Court decisions, Congress, and major news outlets, and he has mentored scientists into leadership posts ranging from top universities to the White House. He has worked at multiple Schools of Public Health, Engineering, and Medicine, including Columbia, Johns Hopkins, Berkeley, Penn, the University of San Carlos in Guatemala, and the University of Otago in New Zealand, and is a member of the National Academy of Medicine.

Academic Appointments

  • Chair, Department of Epidemiology
  • Gelman Professor of Epidemiology

Credentials & Experience

Education & Training

  • BA, 1990 Franklin and Marshall College
  • PhD, 1998 Johns Hopkins University
  • Other, 2000 University of California, Berkeley

Committees, Societies, Councils

Director/PI, CDC Columbia Center for Injury Science and Prevention

Board Member, Research Society for the Prevention of Firearm-Related Harms

Chair, Committee on Applied Research for Hazard Mitigation and Resilience, National Academies

Board Member, Health and Resilience Board, National Academies

Member, Advisory Committee, New York Mayor's Action Plan for Neighborhood Safety

Board Member, The Reinvestment Fund Policy Advisory Board

Member, Advisory Committee, Minority Men's Health Initiative, Hampton University

Adjunct Professor of Epidemiology, University of Pennsylvania

Editorial Boards

Editorial Board, International Journal of Epidemiology

Editorial Board, Injury Epidemiology

Honors & Awards

Elected Member, National Academy of Medicine

Elected Member, American Epidemiological Society

Past President, Society for Advancement of Violence and Injury Research

Outstanding Service Award, American Trauma Society

Excellence in Epidemiology Teaching Award, University of Pennsylvania


Selected Publications

South EC, Tam VW, Ridgeway G, MacDonald JM, Branas CC. Effect of abandoned housing interventions on gun violence, perceptions of safety, and substance use in Black neighborhoods: a citywide cluster randomized trial. JAMA Internal Medicine, 2023.

Branas CC. The culture of experimentation in epidemiology, 50 years later. IJE - International Journal of Epidemiology, 2022.

Zebrowski A, Rundle A, Pei S, Yaman T, Yang W, Carr BG, Sims S, Doorley R, Schluger N, Quinn JW, Shaman J, Branas CC. A spatiotemporal tool to project hospital critical care capacity and mortality from COVID-19 in US counties. AJPH - American Journal of Public Health, 2021.

Branas CC, Reeping PM, Rudolph KE. Beyond gun laws: Innovative interventions to reduce gun violence in the United States. JAMA Psychiatry, 8:1-2, 2020.

Reeping PM, Cerda M, Kalesan B, Wiebe DJ, Galea S, Branas CC. State gun laws, gun ownership, and mass shootings in the United States. BMJ - British Medical Journal, 364: 1542-8, 2019.

Branas CC, South E, Kondo MC, Hohl BC, Bourgois P, Wiebe DJ, MacDonald JM. A citywide cluster randomized trial to restore blighted vacant land and its effects on violence, crime and fear. PNAS - Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 115(8), 1-11, 2018.

South EC, Hohl BC, Kondo MC, MacDonald JM, Branas CC. Effect of greening vacant land on mental health: a citywide randomized controlled trial. JAMA Network Open 1(3), 1-14, 2018.

Branas CC, Cheney RA, MacDonald JM, Tam VW, Jackson TD, Ten Have TR: A difference-in-differences analysis of health, safety, and greening vacant urban space. AJE - American Journal of Epidemiology 174: 1-11, 2011.

Branas CC, Richmond TS, Culhane DP, TenHave TR, Wiebe DJ: Investigating the link between gun possession and gun assault. AJPH - American Journal of Public Health 99(11): 2034-40, 2009.

Branas CC, MacKenzie EJ, Williams JC, Schwab CW, Teter HM, Flanigan MC, Blatt AJ, ReVelle CS: Access to trauma centers in the United States. JAMA - Journal of the American Medical Association 293(21): 2626-2633, 2005.

Global Health Activities

Injury prevention, access and equity, Health Research Council

Chronic disease, injury, and HIV research, NIH Fogarty International Center

Urban Health Activities

A Randomized Trial of Abandoned Housing Remediation, Substance Abuse and Violence, NIH, R01AA024941, Role: PI

A Randomized Trial of Urban Vacant Lot Stabilization and Substance Abuse Outcomes, NIH, R01AA020331, Role: PI