Dustin Duncan, ScD

  • Associate Professor of Epidemiology
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Dustin T. Duncan, ScD is Associate Dean for Health Equity Research and Professor of Epidemiology at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. Dr. Duncan is a fierce advocate for the role of research, science and higher education in addressing complex global challenges, and addressing structural inequity within and outside of the digital academy. Dr. Duncan is an internationally renowned Social and Spatial Epidemiologist. 

Dr. Duncan is a sought-after global thought leader and innovative researcher. Their pioneering research broadly seeks to understand how social contextual factors especially neighborhood characteristics influence population health and health equity. Dr. Duncan’s intersectional research focuses on sexual minority men and transgender people of color across the African diaspora, predominantly situated in the United States and East Africa. Dr. Duncan is learning to speak, read and write Swahili. 

Dr. Duncan has made seminal contributions to the fields of public health, epidemiology and health equity. Dr. Duncan’s scholarly work appears in leading public health, epidemiology, medical, geography, criminology, demography, and psychology journals. Working in collaborations with scholars across the world, Dr. Duncan has over 250 high-impact articles (>125 first or senior-authored), book chapters and books cited approximately 10,000 times; Dr. Duncan’s research has appeared in major media outlets including CNN, U.S. News & World Report, The New York Times, and The Washington Post. Dr. Duncan’s work has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the HIV Prevention Trials Network, the Tow Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Verizon Foundation, and the Aetna Foundation. He serves on the Editorial Boards of Health & Place, the Journal of Urban Health, and Transgender Health.

A career-long educator, Dr. Duncan’s commitment to outstanding teaching was solidified through being an Instructor for courses at NYU Abu Dhabi and the Columbia University, and lecturing at various institutions by invitation. Dr. Duncan is an award-winning leader who have received scientific contribution, mentoring and leadership awards, including from the National Academy of Medicine (NAM), the Harvard University T.H. Chan School of Public Health (HSPH) and the Interdisciplinary Association for Population Health Science (IAPHS). In 2020, Dr. Duncan proudly received the Mentor of the Year Award from Columbia University Irving Medical Center’s Irving Institute for Clinical and Translational Research.

At Columbia, Dr. Duncan also directs Columbia’s Spatial Epidemiology Lab, co-directs the epidemiology department’s Social and Spatial Epidemiology Unit, and co-directs the Health Equity Core in the HIV Center for Clinical and Behavioral Studies. In addition, Dr. Duncan sits on the boards of the Council for Black Health, Ronald McDonald House New York, and an eponymous foundation in Harlem, New York, led by their mother Dr. Dionne J. Jones.

Dr. Duncan is currently completing a Certificate in HIV/AIDS and Counseling at the Kenya Institute of Social Work, while they expand their funding and impact in the East Africa region with various Columbia colleagues. As Dr. Duncan’s lab works on health equity issues in East Africa, they are deepening the Columbia Spatial Epidemiology Lab—as the group has become a leading geospatial resource for research groups focused on GIS mapping and spatial analyses among sexual and gender minorities in the United States.

Academic Appointments

  • Associate Professor of Epidemiology

Administrative Titles

  • Co-Director of the Social and Spatial Epidemiology Unit
  • Associate Dean for Health Equity

Credentials & Experience

Education & Training

  • ScD, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
  • ScM, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
  • BA, Morehouse College


Research Interests

  • Biostatistical Methods
  • Community Health
  • Environmental Health
  • Global Health
  • Infectious Diseases
  • LGBT health
  • Urban Health

Selected Publications

Duncan DT, Kawachi I, editors. Neighborhoods and Health, 2nd Edition. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press; 2018.

Duncan DT, Kawachi I, Redline S, editors. The Social Epidemiology of Sleep. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press; 2019.

Chaix B, Duncan D, Vallee J, Vernez-Moudon A, Benmarhnia T, Kestens Y. The "residential" effect fallacy in neighborhood and health studies: formal definition, empirical identification, and correction. Epidemiology. 2017 Nov;28(6):789-797.

Duncan DT, Kawachi I, Subramanian SV, Aldstadt J, Melly SJ, Williams DR. Examination of How Neighborhood Definition Influences Measurements of Youths Access to Tobacco Retailers: A Methodological Note on Spatial Misclassification. American Journal of Epidemiology. 2014 Feb 1; 179(3): 373-381.

Duncan DT, Kapadia F, Halkitis PN. Examination of Spatial Polygamy among Young Gay, Bisexual, and Other Men Who Have Sex with Men in New York City: The P18 Cohort Study. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2014 Aug 28; 11(9): 8962-8983.

Duncan DT, Regan SD, Park SH, Goedel WC, Kim B, Barton S, Halkitis PN, Chaix B. Spatial Mobility Among Young Men who have Sex with Men across High HIV Prevalence Neighborhoods in New York City: The P18 Neighborhood Study. Spatial and Spatio-temporal Epidemiology. 2020 Nov; 35: 100356.

Duncan DT, Hickson DA, Goedel WC, Callander D, Brooks B, Chen Y-T, Hanson H, Eavou R, Khanna AS, Chaix B, Regan SD, Wheeler DP, Mayer KH, Safren SA, Melvin SC, Draper C, Macgee-Jackson V, Brewer R, Schneider JA, on behalf of the Neighborhoods and Networks Cohort Study Team. The Social Context of HIV Prevention and Care Among Black Men Who Have Sex with Men in Three U.S. Cities: The Neighborhoods and Networks (N2) Cohort Study. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2019 May 30;16(11).

Duncan DT, Park SH, Goedel WC, Kreski N, Morganstein JG, Hambrick HR, Jean-Louis G, Chaix B. Perceived Neighborhood Safety is Associated with Poor Sleep Health Among Gay, Bisexual and Other Men Who Have Sex with Men in Paris, France. Journal of Urban Health. Jun 2017; 94(3):399-407.

Kim B, Rundle AG, Singham Goodwin AT, Morrison CN, Branas CC, El-Sadr W, Duncan DT. COVID-19 Testing, Case, and Death Rates and Spatial Socio-Demographics in New York City: An Ecological Analysis as of June 2020. Health and Place. 2021 Mar; 68: 102539.

Duncan DT, Kawachi I, Kum S, Aldstadt J, Piras G, Matthews SA, Arbia G, Castro MC, White K, Williams DR. A spatially explicit approach to the study of socio-demographic inequality in the spatial distribution of trees across Boston neighborhoods. Spatial Demography. 2014; 2(1): 1-29.