New Baker Institute fellow to advance research on global health issues

Recent surveys suggest the vast majority of Americans believe the United States should play a major role in improving global health. This is not just about social justice and inequality, said Farhan Majid, who joined Rice’s Baker Institute for Public Policy in the fall as the first L.E. and Virginia Simmons Fellow in Health and Technology Policy.


“It’s also a cost-effective way to prevent infectious diseases at their source from affecting Americans,” Majid said. “It’s a preventative approach to mitigate the risk of political and economic instability and its consequences — the likes of terrorism and ensuing refugee crises — which directly affect the well-being of Americans today and tomorrow.”

Majid, who received his Ph.D. in economics from the University of California, Riverside, most recently served as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania and McGill University.

His research covers a wide array of topics related to global health and development economics, such as the impact of Ramadan fasting during pregnancy on the economic performance of the next generation, the effects of war on the excess mortality for the educated and the impact of minimum wages on the health of children in the developing world.

“Dr. Majid has tremendous analytical skills, as well as knowledge of a wide range of specialized data sources that can answer questions regarding some of the most pressing issues influencing global health and productivity,” said Vivian Ho, the James A. Baker III Institute Chair in Health Economics, professor of economics and director of the institute’s Center for Health and Biosciences. “We have high hopes that his research will help to improve the well-being of children and families throughout the life cycle in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.”

Since he arrived at Rice, Majid has been working with Rebecca Richards-Kortum, the Malcolm Gillis University Professor, and colleagues at the Rice 360˚ Institute for Global Health on a major impact project that aims to design, develop and deploy NEST (Newborn Essential Solutions and Technologies), a set of affordable technologies to end preventable newborn deaths in Sub-Saharan Africa. He was part of the proposal submitted to the MacArthur Foundation now on the short list of semifinalists for a $100 million grant. “As an economist, I plan to work with Rebecca to carry out cost-effectiveness analyses and to propose ways to make NEST sustainable over the long term,” he said.

In January, Majid authored a policy brief addressed to the new Trump administration, “Invest in Global Child Nutrition,” which argued that investing in child nutrition and alleviating child hunger in low-income settings are not only important from an ethics and equity perspective but also make economic sense.

“I see investing in child nutrition globally as not only a matter of ethical concern, given that 3 million children die each year due to malnutrition, representing 45 percent of all child deaths, but investing in child nutrition has one of the highest economic returns to investing,” Majid said. “Well-nourished children are less likely to be infected by disease and more likely to grow [up to be] healthy, smart and wealthy.”

About Jeff Falk

Jeff Falk is director of national media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.