Richard Parker, PhD

  • Professor Emeritus of Sociomedical Sciences and Anthropology
  • Special Lecturer in Sociomedical Sciences
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Dr. Richard Parker is a medical anthropologist.  His research focuses on the social and cultural construction of gender and sexuality, the social and political aspects of HIV/AIDS, and the relationship between social inequality, stigma, discrimination, and the social determinants of health.  He is especially well known for his work on the politics of global health and on the role of social movements and community mobilization in responding to public health challenges.

Dr. Parker has conducted long-term research in Brazil since the early 1980s, as well as comparative studies in Asia, Africa, North America, and other parts of Latin America and the Caribbean. He is the author of more than 200 publications, and his recent books include SEXUALITY, HEALTH AND HUMAN RIGHTS, the ROUTLEDGE HANDBOOK ON GLOBAL PUBLIC HEALTH and STRUCTURAL APPROACHES IN PUBLIC HEALTH.

In addition to his academic work, he has also served on numerous commissions and held a range of positions in program and advocacy work. He is currently the Director and President of the Brazilian Interdisciplinary AIDS Association (ABIA), one of the leading non-governmental AIDS organizations in Brazil, as well as the founder and Co-Chair of Sexuality Policy Watch, a global coalition of researchers, policymakers and advocates with secretariat offices in Rio de Janeiro and New York City (, and the Editor-in-Chief for the journal, GLOBAL PUBLIC HEALTH (, published by Routledge.

Academic Appointments

  • Professor Emeritus of Sociomedical Sciences and Anthropology
  • Special Lecturer in Sociomedical Sciences

Administrative Titles

  • Special Research Scientist in the Department of Sociomedical Sciences
  • Director, Center for the Study of Culture, Politics, and Health
  • Member, Columbia University Committee on Global Thought

Credentials & Experience

Education & Training

  • BA, 1980 University of California
  • MA, 1981 University of California
  • PhD, 1988 University of California

Committees, Societies, Councils

President, Brazilian Interdisciplinary AIDS Association (ABIA)

Professor, Medical Anthropology and Human Sexuality, Dept. of Health Policy and Institutions, Institute of Social Medicine, State University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Member, Board of Directors, Commission on Citizenship and Reproduction, Sao Paulo, Brazil

At Large Member, Board of Directors, ICASO, Toronto, Canada

American Anthropological Association Task Force on AIDS

Advisory Director, International Planned Parenthood Federation-Western Hemisphere Region

Editorial Boards

Editor-in-Chief, Global Public Health,

Founding Editor, Culture, Health and Sexuality

Editorial Board Member, Archives of Sexual Behavior

Honors & Awards

Award for Teaching Excellence, Class of 2004, Mailman School of Public Health

Ruth Benedict Prize, Outstanding Book of the Year (for Bodies, Pleasures and Passions: Sexual Culture in Contemporary Brazil, Society of Lesbian and Gay Anthropologists (SOLGA), 1991


Research Interests

  • Community Health
  • Global Health
  • LGBT health
  • Public Health Education
  • Urban Health

Global Health Activities

HIV/AIDS and Social Science/Rockefeller Foundation Project: Dr. Parker received funding from the Rockefeller Foundation for a June 2005 meeting in Bellagio, Italy of leading social science researchers. The discussion will focus on contributions that social science research has made to HIV/AIDS thus far, key challenges to prioritize for future responses to the pandemic, and training and support of social science researchers and the development of research institutions, particularly in the countries most affected.

Religious Responses to HIV/AIDS in Brazil/NICHD Project: Dr. Parker has recently been awarded an NIH grant to specifically examine the roles played by religious organizations in the Brazilian response to AIDS, and how their actions have contributed to the development and implementation of a Brazilian model for addressing the epidemic. This research seeks to develop a comparative analysis of the multiple ways in which Catholic, Evangelical Protestant, and Afro-Brazilian religions have responded at the policy, institutional, and population levels to HIV/AIDS in Brazil.

Sexuality Policy Watch: Dr. Parker is the founder and co-chair of Sexuality Policy Watch (SPW). Constituted as a global forum composed of researchers and activists from a wide range of countries and regions of the world, SPW contributes to sexuality related global policy debates through strategic policy-oriented research and analysis projects, and works to promote more effective linkages between local, regional and global initiatives.