Usama Bilal, MD MPH PhD

Please note: last major update to this website was done pre-COVID. Slowly working on updating it again.

Sometimes I wish I could have been a sociologist, or a demographer, or an economist, or a geographer, or an engineer, or an urban planner. So I decided to do social epidemiology, with a little bit of each, and to focus on urban environments.

I am currently Assistant Professor of Epidemiology at the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics and the Urban Health Collaborative at Drexel University Dornsife School of Public Health, where I was previously a postdoctoral research fellow. I defended my dissertation in the Ph.D. program in Epidemiology (concentration in Cardiovascular Epi) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. I did my MPH at the Escuela Nacional de Sanidad/Universidad de Alcala, and my MD at the Facultad de Medicina of the Universidad de Oviedo, all in Spain.

My overarching research interest is to study the macrosocial determinants of health. More specifically, I primarily work on:

  • Describing health inequalities/disparities/inequities in urban settings.

  • Studying factors that modify these inequities, or studying how social factors modify the effects of risk factors on health.

  • Urban health in Latin American cities (SALURBAL project).

I also have other side research interests, such as:

  • Addressing challenges in the use of mortality data at the city level

  • Challenges in the measurement and conceptualization of the local food environment

  • Complex systems approaches to study the role of endogeneity, heterogeneity, and non-linearity in urban health

I consider myself "bilingual" in STATA and R, although I use the former only for mixed-effects models nowadays.

From 2013 to 2015 I was supported by a La Caixa Fellowship. From 2015 to 2017 I was supported by a Center For a Livable Future-Lerner Fellowship. In 2018 I was awarded an NIH Director's Early Indepencence Award (DP5), which has helped support my research for the last few years. More recently I have also been funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

I attended the 2016 Santa Fe Institute Complex Systems Summer School where I learned to up the throughput (and that a rock is as intelligent as we are, only a tiny bit slower [it's all about the temporal scale you use {speaking of scaling, I also learned about power laws}]).

Last Updated: March 2022