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Felicia Marie Knaul, BA (International Development, University of Toronto), MA, PhD (Economics, Harvard University) is Professor at the Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine of the University of Miami. She is also Director of the University of Miami Institute for Advanced Study of the Americas (UMIA), dedicated to research, policy analysis, training and institution-building linking the humanities, the arts, the sciences and social and economic development.

She is Founding President of Tómatelo a Pecho, A.C. México; Honorary Research Professor of Medical Sciences, National Institute of Public Health of Mexico; Director of the program on Universality and Competitiveness in Health, and Senior Economist at the Mexican Health Foundation, and member of the Mexican National Academy of Medicine. She is President of the Latin American Union Against Cancer of Women (ULACCAM). From Summer 2009 to 2015 she was Associate Professor, Harvard Medical School and Director of the Harvard Global Equity Initiative (HGEI), an inter-faculty program chaired by Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen.

Dr. Knaul has designed, created and coordinated several research and advocacy networks. Since 2014 she is the Chair of the Lancet Commission on Global Access to Palliative Care and Pain Control. She founded and directed the Global Task Force on Expanded Access to Cancer Care and Control and was a member of the Global Task Force on Radiotherapy for Cancer Control, taking a leadership role in the global reports that were produced. She coordinated the Global Network for Health Equity, an initiative that brings together researchers from Latin America, in association with the Asia EQUITAP network and the Africa SHIELD network. Shale also served as chair the Pan American Health Organization Task Force on Universal Health Coverage.

As a result of her breast cancer experience, in 2008 Dr. Knaul founded Cáncer de Mama: Tómatelo a Pecho, a Mexico-based non-profit agency that promotes research, advocacy, awareness, and early detection in Latin America. She has lectured globally on the challenge of breast cancer in low and middle-income countries, both as patient-advocate and health systems researcher. She recounts her personal experience in Tómatelo a Pecho (Grupo Santillana, 2009) and Beauty without the Breast (Harvard University Press/ Harvard Global Equity Initiative 2013). Her story and her work have been featured in The Lancet, Science, WHO Bulletin, Newsweek en Español, and Cancer Today.

Her research is focused on global health, cancer and especially breast cancer in low and middle-income countries, women and health, health systems and reform, health financing, access to pain control and palliative care, poverty and inequity, gender equity and particularly female labor force participation, and children in especially difficult circumstances. 

Dr. Knaul has produced over 190 academic and policy publications. From 2012-2015, she was a member of the Lancet Commission on Women and Health and a leading co-author of the June 2015 report. In 2013-2104 she participated in the Lancet Series Universal Health Coverage in Latin America. In 2012, she led a Lancet group publication that reviewed the health system reform of Mexico; a follow-up to The Lancet 2006 Mexico series that she also chaired. She has authored and lead-edited several academic books, including Closing the Cancer Divide (Harvard University Press/Harvard Global Equity Initiative 2012) and Financing Health in Latin America: Household Spending and Impoverishment (Harvard University Press/Harvard Global Equity Initiative 2013).

She serves on the international advisory board of The Lancet Global Health, and on the editorial boards of ecancer Medical Science and the Journal of Global Oncology of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Dr. Knaul has also written for the Huffington Post, and served as Chief Editor of the Global Health and Cancer section of The Oncologist.

Dr. Knaul has held senior, federal government positions at the Ministries of Education and Social Development of Mexico, and the Colombian Department of Planning. She has also worked as a consultant and advisor for bilateral and multilateral agencies such as the World Health Organization and the World Bank. In these roles, she has led or participated in several global policy reports and directed the production of various papers for the government of Mexico on education, health and children´s rights.

She mentors several young leader groups including the Harvard Cancer Society, the YP-NCD network and NCDFree. She also mentors students and supervises undergraduate, graduate and post-doctoral scholars and fellowships for students from around the world.

Dr. Knaul serves on several boards including the United Way of Miami Dade, the EAT Global Forum, Harvard-Mexico Foundation, and the Jalisco Cancer Institute. She was a board member of the Union for International Cancer Control from 2010-2014.

In 2015 was awarded “Flama, Vida y Mujer” by the Autonomous University of the State of Nuevo Leon, as well as the Global Health Catalyst Award. In 2013 she was named one of Mexico’s most influential women in 2013, and she was awarded the Global Development Network Prize for Outstanding Research on Change in the Health Sector for her work on Seguro Popular and financial protection in Mexico in 2005.

Dr. Knaul is a citizen of Canada and the United Kingdom, and a permanent resident of Mexico, dividing her time between Cuernavaca, Morelos and Miami, Florida, USA. She is passionate about nature, and collects orchids and other plants, and promotes and practices physical fitness through daily exercise especially as an avid walker, often with her dogs Tikvot and Lupi.

She and her husband, Dr. Julio Frenk, have two children, Hannah Sofia (21 and studying chemistry) and Mariana Havivah (13). Her mother Marie and brother Jonathan live in Canada.


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