Harvard Catalyst Profiles

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Jessica L Cohen, Ph.D.

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Wesleyan University, ConnecticutBA05/2000Economics
MIT, MassachusettsPhD02/2008Economics

Dr. Cohen is a health and behavioral economist whose research uses randomized controlled trials and other rigorous quasi-experimental methods to evaluate the impact of maternal and child health programs and policies, both in the United States and East African countries. Dr. Cohen's research explores the behavioral channels by which health policies translate into health outcomes, with the aim of embedding this evidence into policy design and increasing policy impact. Dr. Cohen has conducted randomized controlled trials to evaluate the impact of incentives, subsidies, information, and decision architecture on health seeking behavior and health outcomes in the domains of malaria and maternal health from the prenatal through the postnatal period. Her research uses concepts from economics and psychology to explore drivers of critical health behaviors including maternity care seeking, postpartum contraception, and child nutrition. She also has used various quasi-experimental designs to evaluate the impact of large health policy and health system changes on population health, including malaria pharmaceutical subsidy policies and maternity provider payment models. Current work explores drivers of maternity provider behavior, including quality of care during labor and delivery and provision of postpartum contraception.

Dr. Cohen's work has been been published widely in top economics and public health journals and has been referenced in major national and international publications. She has won a mentorship award and a teaching award from the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. Her research on subsidy policies for insecticide treated nets was deemed by Vox as a top social science paper of the decade. Dr. Cohen was a member of the WHO Global Malaria Program's Technical Expert Group on Surveillance, Monitoring and Evaluation and has served on NIH expert review panels related to implementation science and impact evaluation.

Dr. Cohen received her bachelor's degree in Economics from Wesleyan University and her PhD in Economics from MIT, where she was a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow.

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Funded by the NIH National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences through its Clinical and Translational Science Awards Program, grant number UL1TR002541.