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profileBrett Dee Nelson, M.D.

TitleAssociate Professor of Pediatrics
InstitutionMassachusetts General Hospital
DepartmentPediatrics
AddressMassachusetts General Hospital for Children
Division of Pediatric Global Health, 5th Floor
175 Cambridge St
Boston MA 02114
Phone443/562-6875
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I am a pediatrician and public health professional (Associate Professor, Harvard Medical School; Assistant Pediatrician, Massachusetts General Hospital) whose interests are advocacy and health care provision for vulnerable populations, particularly children and individuals affected by conflict and crisis. My work in these disciplines has included clinical care, program development, advocacy, education, and needs-based research in many resource-limited settings.

My training includes MD and MPH degrees from Johns Hopkins, with MPH concentrations in humanitarian assistance and human rights, and an advanced diploma in tropical medicine from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. I completed my pediatric training in the Boston Combined Residency Program in Pediatrics (Harvard Medical School / Boston University School of Medicine). Following residency training, I helped develop the nation’s first Pediatric Global Health Fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital. In my capacity as the first fellow, I served as the Senior Pediatrician for the Liberian Ministry of Health and as the Interim Chair of Pediatrics and Newborn Medicine at Liberia’s sole teaching hospital. Working with my local Liberian colleagues, I led efforts in establishing pediatric and newborn care and training in a post-conflict country without pediatricians.

Since the early 1990s, I have also been involved in significant academic research and consultancy in over a dozen disrupted areas (e.g. central, eastern, and western Africa, the Balkans, Middle East, Haiti, etc.) while working for organizations such as the CDC, Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, Massachusetts General Hospital, International Rescue Committee, International Red Cross and Red Crescent, and Médecins Sans Frontières. This work has included pediatric clinical care, post-conflict health services development, HIV/AIDS surveillance in conflict-affected regions, as well as the establishment of clinical training programs stateside and in developing countries. I also led the development of innovative methodologies for the assessment of health services in resource-limited settings. This novel participatory approach integrates qualitative and quantitative methods and has now been successfully applied to many diverse settings. My academic accomplishments have been kindly recognized in several international conference presentations and in over a dozen peer-reviewed publications, including three first-authored articles in the leading journal, Pediatrics. I co-direct a popular global health and tropical medicine course at Harvard Medical School, “Clinical Topics in Global Health” (ME715.J). I am the editor of the textbook, 'Essential Clinical Global Health' (http://bit.ly/ECGHbn).

I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to work in pediatrics and global health. Given children’s inherent vulnerability, I strongly feel it’s imperative to give them greater voice and to work towards eliminating or mitigating the tragic impact of global conflict and crisis upon child health.


Collapse Mentoring 
Collapse completed student projects
Perceptions of Tanzanian Health Care Workers Towards the Use of Mobile Phone Clinical Protocols
International, 06/14/12 - 08/04/12

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Publications listed below are automatically derived from MEDLINE/PubMed and other sources, which might result in incorrect or missing publications. Faculty can login to make corrections and additions.
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  1. O'Donovan J, Ahn R, Nelson BD, Kagan C, Burke TF. Using low-cost Android tablets and instructional videos to teach clinical skills to medical students in Kenya: a prospective study. JRSM Open. 2016 Aug; 7(8):2054270416645044. PMID: 27540487.
    View in: PubMed
  2. Pinder LF, Nelson BD, Eckardt M, Goodman A. A Public Health Priority: Disparities in Gynecologic Cancer Research for African-Born Women in the United States. Clin Med Insights Womens Health. 2016; 9:21-6. PMID: 27499654.
    View in: PubMed
  3. Reisman J, Arlington L, Jensen L, Louis H, Suarez-Rebling D, Nelson BD. Newborn Resuscitation Training in Resource-Limited Settings: A Systematic Literature Review. Pediatrics. 2016 Aug; 138(2). PMID: 27388500.
    View in: PubMed
  4. Schwartz KR, Fredricks K, Al Tawil Z, Kandler T, Odenyo SA, Imbamba J, Nelson BD, Burke TF. An innovative safe anesthesia and analgesia package for emergency pediatric procedures and surgeries when no anesthetist is available. Int J Emerg Med. 2016 Dec; 9(1):16. PMID: 27286891.
    View in: PubMed
  5. Natarajan A, Kamara J, Ahn R, Nelson BD, Eckardt MJ, Williams AM, Kargbo SA, Burke TF. Provider experience of uterine balloon tamponade for the management of postpartum hemorrhage in Sierra Leone. Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 2016 Jul; 134(1):83-6. PMID: 27085981.
    View in: PubMed
  6. Fehling M, Jarrah ZM, Tiernan ME, Albezreh S, VanRooyen MJ, Alhokair A, Nelson BD. Youth in crisis in the Middle East and North Africa: a systematic literature review and focused landscape analysis. East Mediterr Health J. 2016 Dec; 21(12):916-30. PMID: 26996365.
    View in: PubMed
  7. Natarajan A, Ahn R, Nelson BD, Eckardt M, Kamara J, Kargbo S, Kanu P, Burke TF. Use of prophylactic uterotonics during the third stage of labor: a survey of provider practices in community health facilities in Sierra Leone. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. 2016; 16:23. PMID: 26821645.
    View in: PubMed
  8. Pendleton AA, Natarajan A, Ahn R, Nelson BD, Eckardt MJ, Burke TF. A qualitative assessment of the impact of a uterine balloon tamponade package on decisions regarding the role of emergency hysterectomy in women with uncontrolled postpartum haemorrhage in Kenya and Senegal. BMJ Open. 2016; 6(1):e010083. PMID: 26747039.
    View in: PubMed
  9. Pendleton AA, Natarajan A, Ahn R, Nelson BD, Eckardt MJ, Burke TF. Emergency hysterectomy for uncontrolled postpartum hemorrhage may be averted through uterine balloon tamponade in Kenya and Senegal. Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 2016 Apr; 133(1):124. PMID: 26797194.
    View in: PubMed
  10. Lozo S, Eckardt MJ, Altawil Z, Nelson BD, Ahn R, Khisa W, Burke TF. Prevalence of unrepaired third- and fourth-degree tears among women taken to the operating room for repair of presumed obstetric fistula during two fistula camps in Kenya. Int Urogynecol J. 2016 Mar; 27(3):463-6. PMID: 26407562.
    View in: PubMed
  11. Reisman J, Martineau N, Kairuki A, Mponzi V, Meda AR, Isangula KG, Thomas E, Plotkin M, Chan GJ, Davids L, Msemo G, Azayo M, Nelson BD. Validation of a novel tool for assessing newborn resuscitation skills among birth attendants trained by the Helping Babies Breathe program. Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 2015 Nov; 131(2):196-200. PMID: 26283225.
    View in: PubMed
  12. Natarajan A, Chavez J, Ahn R, Nelson BD, Eckardt M, Dulo L, Achieng E, Oguttu M, Tester K, Burke TF. Provider experiences with uterine balloon tamponade for uncontrolled postpartum hemorrhage in health facilities in Kenya. Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 2015 Nov; 131(2):201-4. PMID: 26277599.
    View in: PubMed
  13. Burke TF, Ahn R, Nelson BD, Hines R, Kamara J, Oguttu M, Dulo L, Achieng E, Achieng B, Natarajan A, Maua J, Kargbo S, Altawil Z, Tester K, de Redon E, Niang M, Abdalla K, Eckardt MJ. A postpartum haemorrhage package with condom uterine balloon tamponade: a prospective multi-centre case series in Kenya, Sierra Leone, Senegal, and Nepal. BJOG. 2016 Aug; 123(9):1532-40. PMID: 26223284.
    View in: PubMed
  14. Ahamadani FA, Louis H, Ugwi P, Hines R, Pomerleau M, Ahn R, Burke TF, Nelson BD. Perinatal health care in a conflict-affected setting: evaluation of health-care services and newborn outcomes at a regional medical centre in Iraq. East Mediterr Health J. 2014 Dec; 20(12):789-95. PMID: 25664517.
    View in: PubMed
  15. Olson KR, Caldwell A, Sihombing M, Guarino AJ, Nelson BD, Petersen R. Assessing self-efficacy of frontline providers to perform newborn resuscitation in a low-resource setting. Resuscitation. 2015 Apr; 89:58-63. PMID: 25613363.
    View in: PubMed
  16. Nelson BD, Ahn R, Markovchick V, Hines RA, Lauretti AR, Lauretti JR, Dahl-Regis M, Burke TF. Emergency care and referral among isolated island populations in the Bahamas. J Emerg Med. 2015 Mar; 48(3):356-65. PMID: 25534899.
    View in: PubMed
  17. Makene CL, Plotkin M, Currie S, Bishanga D, Ugwi P, Louis H, Winani K, Nelson BD. Improvements in newborn care and newborn resuscitation following a quality improvement program at scale: results from a before and after study in Tanzania. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. 2014; 14:381. PMID: 25406496; PMCID: PMC4247559.
  18. Collins L, Ellis M, Pritchard EW, Jenkins C, Hoeritzauer I, Farquhar A, Laverty O, Murray V, Nelson BD. Child-headed households in Rakai District, Uganda: a mixed-methods study. Paediatr Int Child Health. 2016 Feb; 36(1):58-63. PMID: 25362964.
    View in: PubMed
  19. Zucker H, Ahn R, Sinclair SJ, Blais M, Nelson BD, Burke TF. Development of a scale to measure individuals' ratings of peace. Confl Health. 2014; 8:17. PMID: 25298781; PMCID: PMC4189546.
  20. Burke TF, Hines R, Ahn R, Walters M, Young D, Anderson RE, Tom SM, Clark R, Obita W, Nelson BD. Emergency and urgent care capacity in a resource-limited setting: an assessment of health facilities in western Kenya. BMJ Open. 2014; 4(9):e006132. PMID: 25260371; PMCID: PMC4179582.
  21. Anderson RE, Ahn R, Nelson BD, Chavez J, de Redon E, Burke T. Defining the anesthesia gap for reproductive health procedures in resource-limited settings. Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 2014 Dec; 127(3):229-33. PMID: 25179170.
    View in: PubMed
  22. Fehling M, Nelson BD, Venkatapuram S. Limitations of the Millennium Development Goals: a literature review. Glob Public Health. 2013; 8(10):1109-22. PMID: 24266508; PMCID: PMC3877943.
  23. Fehling M, Nelson BD, Ahn R, Eckardt M, Tiernan M, Purcell G, El-Bashir A, Burke TF. Development of a community-based maternal, newborn and child emergency training package in South Sudan. Public Health. 2013 Sep; 127(9):797-805. PMID: 23958386.
    View in: PubMed
  24. Nelson BD, Stoklosa H, Ahn R, Eckardt MJ, Walton EK, Burke TF. Use of uterine balloon tamponade for control of postpartum hemorrhage by community-based health providers in South Sudan. Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 2013 Jul; 122(1):27-32. PMID: 23623587.
    View in: PubMed
  25. Olson KR, Caldwell A, Sihombing M, Guarino AJ, Nelson BD. Community-based newborn resuscitation among frontline providers in a low-resource country. Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 2012 Dec; 119(3):244-7. PMID: 23040406.
    View in: PubMed
  26. Nelson BD, Kasper J, Hibberd PL, Thea DM, Herlihy JM. Developing a Career in Global Health: Considerations for Physicians-in-Training and Academic Mentors. J Grad Med Educ. 2012 Sep; 4(3):301-6. PMID: 23997872; PMCID: PMC3444181.
  27. Nelson BD, Ahn R, Fehling M, Eckardt MJ, Conn KL, El-Bashir A, Tiernan M, Purcell G, Burke TF. Evaluation of a novel training package among frontline maternal, newborn, and child health workers in South Sudan. Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 2012 Nov; 119(2):130-5. PMID: 22944212.
    View in: PubMed
  28. Eneriz-Wiemer M, Nelson BD, Bruce J, Chamberlain LJ. Global health training in pediatric residency: a qualitative analysis of faculty director insights. Acad Pediatr. 2012 May-Jun; 12(3):238-44. PMID: 22503444.
    View in: PubMed
  29. Nelson BD, Fehling M, Eckardt MJ, Ahn R, Tiernan M, Purcell G, Bell S, El-Bashir A, Walton EK, Ghirmai E, Burke TF. South Sudan Medical Journal. Maternal, Newborn, and Child Survival (MNCS): An innovative training package for building frontline health worker capacity in South Sudan. 2011; 4(4).
  30. Nelson BD, Collins L, VanRooyen MJ, Joyce N, Mukwege D, Bartels S. Impact of sexual violence on children in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Med Confl Surviv. 2011 Oct-Dec; 27(4):211-25. PMID: 22416569.
    View in: PubMed
  31. Nelson BD, Saltzman A, Lee PT. Bridging the global health training gap: Design and evaluation of a new clinical global health course at Harvard Medical School. Med Teach. 2012; 34(1):45-51. PMID: 21592020.
    View in: PubMed
  32. Rouhani S, Meloney L, Ahn R, Nelson BD, Burke TF. Alternative rehydration methods: a systematic review and lessons for resource-limited care. Pediatrics. 2011 Mar; 127(3):e748-57. PMID: 21321023.
    View in: PubMed
  33. Nelson BD, Collins L, VanRooyen MJ, Joyce N, Mukwege D, Bartels S. Medicine, Conflict and Survival. Impact of sexual violence on children in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. 2010; 27(4):211-25.
  34. Olson KR, Caldwell A, Nelson BD. Newborn-care training in developing countries. N Engl J Med. 2010 Jun 24; 362(25):2427-8; author reply 2428. PMID: 20573935.
    View in: PubMed
  35. Balsari S, Lemery J, Williams TP, Nelson BD. Protecting the children of Haiti. N Engl J Med. 2010 Mar 4; 362(9):e25. PMID: 20164477.
    View in: PubMed
  36. Nelson BD, Getchell M, Rosborough S, Atwine B, Okeyo E, Wall E, Greenough PG. A participatory approach to assessing refugee perceptions of health services. World Health Popul. 2010; 11(4):13-22. PMID: 20739836.
    View in: PubMed
  37. Stanton B, Huang CC, Armstrong RW, Sectish TC, Palfrey J, Nelson BD, Herlihy JM, Alden E, Keenan W, Szilagyi P. Global health training for pediatric residents. Pediatr Ann. 2008 Dec; 37(12):786-7, 792-6. PMID: 19143329.
    View in: PubMed
  38. Nelson BD, Lee AC, Newby PK, Chamberlin MR, Huang CC. Global health training in pediatric residency programs. Pediatrics. 2008 Jul; 122(1):28-33. PMID: 18595983.
    View in: PubMed
  39. Nelson BD, Herlihy JM, Burke TF. Proposal for fellowship training in pediatric global health. Pediatrics. 2008 Jun; 121(6):1261-2. PMID: 18519498.
    View in: PubMed
  40. Nelson BD. Color Atlas of Pediatric Tropical Medicine. Chapter: "African trypanosomiasis". 2008.
  41. Jadhav AP, Nelson BD, Kim SS, Chiang VW. Cerebrospinal fluid rhinorrhea as a unique cause of hyponatremia. Pediatr Neurol. 2007 Nov; 37(5):360-2. PMID: 17950423.
    View in: PubMed
  42. Nelson BD*, Bartels B*, Leaning J, Loane G (*contributing equally). Civilian protection in the health sector: Implementing human rights principles on the frontlines. Conference proceedings of Humanitarian Health Conference. 2007.
  43. Mills EJ, Singh S, Nelson BD, Nachega JB. The impact of conflict on HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa. Int J STD AIDS. 2006 Nov; 17(11):713-7. PMID: 17062170.
    View in: PubMed
  44. Nelson BD, Dierberg K, Scepanovic M, Mitrovic M, Vuksanovic M, Milic L, VanRooyen MJ. Integrating quantitative and qualitative methodologies for the assessment of health care systems: emergency medicine in post-conflict Serbia. BMC Health Serv Res. 2005 Feb 17; 5(1):14. PMID: 15715917; PMCID: PMC552312.
  45. Nelson BD, Fernandez WG, Galea S, Sisco S, Dierberg K, Gorgieva GS, Nandi AK, Ahern J, Mitrovic M, VanRooyen M, Vlahov D. War-related psychological sequelae among emergency department patients in the former Republic of Yugoslavia. BMC Med. 2004 Jun 1; 2:22. PMID: 15171785; PMCID: PMC425605.
  46. Nelson BD. Disaster epidemiology and risk management. Hospital preparedness for emergencies workbook (U.S. Government publication.). 2004; 1(3).
  47. Nelson BD, Simic S, Beste L, Vukovic D, Bjegovic V, VanRooyen MJ. Multimodal assessment of the primary healthcare system of Serbia: a model for evaluating post-conflict health systems. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2003 Jan-Mar; 18(1):6-13. PMID: 14694894.
    View in: PubMed
  48. Nelson BD, Dierberg KL, Mitrovic M, Vuksanovic M, Milic L, VanRooyen MJ. The use of qualitative and quantitative methodologies for the evaluation of emergency medicine in post-conflict Serbia. ABC: The Serbian Journal of Emergency Medicine. 2002; 2:17-22.
  49. Suzuki J, Shen WJ, Nelson BD, Selwood SP, Murphy GM, Kanehara H, Takahashi S, Oida K, Miyamori I, Kraemer FB, Kanefara H. Cardiac gene expression profile and lipid accumulation in response to starvation. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2002 Jul; 283(1):E94-E102. PMID: 12067848.
    View in: PubMed
  50. Suzuki J, Shen WJ, Nelson BD, Patel S, Veerkamp JH, Selwood SP, Murphy GM, Reaven E, Kraemer FB. Absence of cardiac lipid accumulation in transgenic mice with heart-specific HSL overexpression. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2001 Oct; 281(4):E857-66. PMID: 11551864.
    View in: PubMed
  51. Nelson BD, Simic S, Vukovic D, Bjegovic V, VanRooyen MJ. Evaluation of primary healthcare system needs in Serbia using qualitative methodology: a preliminary report. The Serbian Journal of General Medicine. 2001; 7(3-4):145-48.
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