Constance A Nathanson, PhD

  • Special Research Scientist of Sociomedical Sciences at CUMC
Profile Headshot


Constance A. Nathanson, PhD, has over 40 years of experience in research on sociological dimensions of health and health policy. Her work over the past fifteen years has focused on the history, politics, and sociology of public health policy and policy change in the United States and in its peer developed countries. Recent publications include articles theorizing policy and policy change in public health from a sociological perspective, more substantive articles on tobacco and gun control policy, the role of social movements in policy change, and essays on health inequalities, as well as a book, Disease Prevention as Social Change (2007), that describes and interprets public health policy shifts across time in the United States, France, Great Britain, and Canada. France has been a continuing geographical focus of Nathanson's recent work. She is currently supported by the National Library of Medicine to prepare a book-length manuscript on health crises and institutional and ideological change in public health in France, and. in collaboration with colleagues in the Department of Sociomedical Sciences, is conducting a W.T. Grant supported project to examine the politics of research evidence in American state legislatures. In addition to her research activities, Dr. Nathanson is the co-director of the Columbia Population Research Center and the director of the NICHD-funded training grant in gender, sexuality, and health, located in the Department of Sociomedical Sciences.

Academic Appointments

  • Special Research Scientist of Sociomedical Sciences at CUMC

Credentials & Experience

Education & Training

  • MA, 1958 University of Chicago
  • PhD, 1967 University of Chicago

Committees, Societies, Councils

American Sociological Association

Population Association of America

American Public Health Association

American Association for the Advancement of Science

Honors & Awards

RWJ Health Policy Investigator Award, 1995-1998

Outstanding Book Award, Medical Sociology Section, American Sociological Association, 1991

Fulbright New Century Scholar Award, 2001

Visiting Scholar, Russell Sage Foundation, 1998-99


Constance A. Nathanson's interest in historical and cross-national comparative research on public health policy issues is reflected in work on gender and mortality, on the social history of adolescent sexuality in the United States and, most recently, on policies in response to gun violence, smoking, and HIV/AIDS in injection drug users. A major goal of this latter work has been to develop a conceptual framework identifying major underlying determinants of social change in disease prevention policies across countries and across time. Her book, Dangerous Passage: The Social Control of Sexuality in Women's Adolescence, received the first Eliot Freidson award for outstanding books in medical sociology from the Medical Sociology section of the American Sociological Association in 1993. From 1995-1998, Nathanson held a Health Policy Research Investigator Award from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. She was a Visiting Scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation during the year 1998-1999.

Global Health Activities

Comparative Politics of Public Health in US, Canada, Britain, and France, US, Canada, Britain, France: I am writing a book on the social, political, and ideological forces that drive public health policymaking, using these four countries as comparative case studies.