Nicholas Christakis

Sol Goldman Family Professor of Social and Natural Science, Internal Medicine & Biomedical Engineering
Room / Office: Room 223
Office Address:
17 Hillhouse Avenue
New Haven, CT 06511
Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 208263
New Haven, CT 06520
Phone: (203) 436-4747
Fax: (203) 432-5423
  • B.S., Yale University
  • M.D., Harvard Medical School
  • M.P.H., Harvard School of Public Health
  • Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania


Network Science; Health, Medicine and Biosocial Science; Biodemography; Quantitative Methodology.

Selected Publications:


  • N.A. Christakis, Death Foretold: Prophecy and Prognosis in Medical Care, Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1999.
  • N.A. Christakis and J.H. Fowler, Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives, New York: Little Brown, 2009


  • N.A. Christakis and J.H. Fowler, "Social Contagion Theory: Examining Dynamic Social Networks and Human Behavior," Statistics in Medicine, 32(4): 556-577 (February 2013); doi:10.1002/sim.5408
  • C.F. Chabris, B.M. Hebert, D.J. Benjamin, J. Beauchamp, D. Cesarini, M. van der Loos, M. Johannesson, P.K. E. Magnusson, P. Lichtenstein, C.S. Atwood, J. Freese, T.S. Hauser, R.M. Hauser, N.A. Christakis, D. Laibson, "Most Reported Genetic Associations with General Intelligence Are Probably False Positives," Psychological Science, 23(11): 1314-1323 (November 2012); doi:10.1177/0956797611435528
  • B.E. Landon, N.L. Keating, M.L. Barnett, J.P. Onnela, S. Paul, A.J. O'Malley, T. Keegan, and N.A. Christakis, "Variation in Patient-Sharing Networks of Physicians Across the United States," JAMA: Journal of the American Medical Association, 308(3): 265-273 (July 2012); doi:10.1001/jama.2012.7615
  • F. Fu, C.E. Tarnita, N.A. Christakis, L. Wang, D.G. Rand, and M.A. Nowak, "Evolution of In-Group Favoritism," Nature Scientific Reports, 2: 460 (June 2012); doi:10.1038/srep00460
  • C.L. Apicella, F.W. Marlowe, J.H. Fowler, and N.A. Christakis, "Social Networks and Cooperation in Hunter-Gatherers," Nature 481(7382): 497-501 (January 2012)
  • D. Rand, S. Arbesman, and N.A. Christakis, "Dynamic Social Networks Promote Cooperation in Experiments with Humans," PNAS: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 108 (48): 19193-19198 (November 2011); doi:10.1073/pnas.1108243108
  • J. Block, N.A. Christakis, A.J. O'Malley, and S. Subramanian, "Proximity to Food Establishments and Body Mass Index in the Framingham Heart Study Offspring Cohort over 30 Years," American Journal of Epidemiology, 174(10): 1108-1114 (November 2011); doi:10.1093/aje/kwr244
  • M. Pachucki, P.F. Jacques, and N.A. Christakis, "Social Network Concordance in Food Choice Among Spouses, Friends, and Siblings," American Journal of Public Health, 101(11): 2170-2177 (November 2011); doi:10.2105/AJPH.2011.300282
  • J.P. Beauchamp, D. Cesarini, M. Johannesson, M.J.H.M van der Loos, P.D. Koellinger, P.J.F. Broenen, J.H. Fowler, J.N. Rosenquist, A.R. Thurik, and N.A. Christakis, "Molecular Genetics and Economics," Journal of Economic Perspectives, 25(4): 57-82 (Fall 2011)
  • J.H. Fowler, J.E. Settle, and N.A. Christakis, "Correlated Genotypes in Friendship Networks," PNAS: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 108(5): 1993-1997 (February 2011); doi:10.1073/pnas.1011687108
  • N.A. Christakis and J.H. Fowler, "Social Network Sensors for Early Detection of Contagious Outbreaks," PLoS One, 5(9): e12948. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0012948 (September 2010)
  • L. Jin, F. Elwert, J. Freese, and N.A. Christakis, "Preliminary Evidence Regarding the Hypothesis that the Sex Ratio at Sexual Maturity May Affect Longevity in Men," Demography 47(3): 579-586 (August 2010)
  • J.H. Fowler, and N.A. Christakis, "Cooperative Behavior Cascades in Human Social Networks," PNAS: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 107(12): 5334-5338 (March 2010)
  • L. Jin and N.A. Christakis, "Investigating the Mechanism of Marital Mortality Reduction: The Transition to Widowhood and Quality of Health Care," Demography 46(3): 605-625 (August 2009)
  • J.H. Fowler, C.T. Dawes, and N.A. Christakis, "Model of Genetic Variation in Human Social Networks," PNAS: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 106(6): 1720-1724 (February 2009)
  • F. Elwert and N.A. Christakis, "Wives and Ex-Wives: A New Test for Homogamy Bias in the Widower Effect," Demography 45(4): 851-873 (November 2008)
  • K.P. Smith and N.A. Christakis, "Social Networks and Health," Annual Review of Sociology 34: 405-429 (August 2008)
  • M. Alexander and N.A. Christakis, "Bias and Asymmetric Loss in Expert Forecasts: A Study of Physician Prognostic Behavior with Respect to Patient Survival," Journal of Health Economics 27(4): 1095-1108 (July 2008)
  • N.A. Christakis and J.H. Fowler, "The Collective Dynamics of Smoking in a Large Social Network," New England Journal of Medicine 358(21): 2249-2258 (May 2008)
  • N.A. Christakis and J.H. Fowler, "The Spread of Obesity in a Large Social Network Over 32 Years," New England Journal of Medicine 357(4): 370-379 (July 2007)
  • F. Elwert and N.A. Christakis, "Widowhood and Race," ASR: American Sociological Review 71(1): 16-41 (February 2006)
  • N.A. Christakis and P.D. Allison, "Mortality After the Hospitalization of a Spouse," New England Journal of Medicine 354(7): 719-730 (February 2006)


Nicholas A. Christakis, MD, PhD, MPH, is a social scientist and physician who conducts research on social factors that affect health, health care, and longevity. He directs the Human Nature Lab at Yale University, and is the Co-Director of the Yale Institute for Network Science. He is the Sol Goldman Family Professor of Social and Natural Science at Yale University.

Dr. Christakis received his BS from Yale University in 1984, his MD from Harvard Medical School and his MPH from the Harvard School of Public Health in 1989, and his PhD from the University of Pennsylvania in 1995. He was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences in 2006 and was made a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2010.

His current research focuses on health and social networks, and especially with how ill health, disability, health behavior, health care, and death in one person can influence the same phenomena in others in a person's social network. This work involves the application of network science and mathematical models to understand the dynamics of health in longitudinally evolving networks. To the extent that health behaviors such as smoking, drinking, or unhealthy eating spread within networks in intelligible ways, there are substantial implications for public health and health policy. This body of work has also engaged the spread of emotional states such as happiness, depression, and loneliness within social networks. Other recent work has examined the spread of altruism and the genetic determinants of social network structure. Along with his long-time collaborator, James H. Fowler, Dr. Christakis had authored a book on social networks, published in 2009, Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives. This book has been translated into nearly 20 foreign languages, and it has been widely reviewed.

Dr. Christakis' past work was focused on topics related to end-of-life care, such as hospice care, widowhood and caregiver burden, ICU decision-making, and the role of prognostication in medicine (about which he has written three books, including clinical textbooks).

In 2009, Christakis was named by Time magazine to their annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world. In 2009 and in 2010, he was listed by Foreign Policy magazine in their annual list of Top 100 Global Thinkers.