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Felicia Marie Knaul, (International Development, University of Toronto), MA, PhD (Economics, Harvard University), has dedicated more than three decades to translational research, advocacy and policy work in global health, social development and higher education, focused on reducing inequities and improving the condition of vulnerable groups, primarily in low- and middle-income countries and especially in Latin America and the Caribbean.

At the University of Miami, she is Director of the Institute for Advanced Study of the Americas and of the office for Hemispheric and Global Affairs and serves as the Secretary General of the Hemispheric University Consortium led by the Presidents of 14 research universities in the Americas. She holds an academic appointment as full Professor at the Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine, and is cross-appointed at the School of Nursing and Health Studies, the Herbert Business School, and the College of Arts and Sciences, and is a Full Member of the Cancer Control Program at the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center. From 2009 to 2015, Dr. Knaul was Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School and Director of the Harvard Global Equity Initiative, an inter-faculty program chaired by Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen.

She maintains a strong advocacy and research base in Mexico. She is Senior Economist at the Mexican Health Foundation, Honorary Research Professor of Medical Sciences at the National Institute of Public Health of Mexico and serves in an advisory role to one of Mexico´s leading universities, the Tecnológico de Monterrey. In 2008, as a result of her breast cancer experience, Dr. Knaul founded Cáncer de Mama: Tómatelo a Pecho, a Mexican non-profit agency that has promoted research, advocacy, awareness, and early detection of breast cancer since its inception. She lectures globally on the challenge of cancer, both as patient-advocate and health systems researcher, and published the memoir 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 Science, Cancer Today, Miami ABC 10, The Miami Herald, The Lancet, WHO Bulletin, and Newsweek en Español. In 2019, Tómatelo a Pecho expanded its mandate to promote women’s health broadly, including research focused on ending gender-based violence.

She has held senior, federal government positions at the Ministries of Education and Social Development of Mexico, and the Colombian Department of Planning and worked on health reform and social development in both countries. She has led or participated in several global policy reports, including the World Health Report 2000, and directed the production of various papers for the government of Mexico on education, health and children´s rights. While working for the Minister of Education of Mexico she designed and implemented an evidence-based national, inter-institutional program Sigamos Aprendiendo en el Hospital, and catalyzed the placement of officially-recognized schools in tertiary hospitals throughout the country. As the founder and director of the program, she put in place an inter-institutional, multi-disciplinary group of researchers, government leaders, advocates and donors, working with the First Lady and the ministers of health and education, and produced research publications documented both the design and the initial results. She also chaired a multi-sectorial, inter-institutional working group and lead authored the Programa Nacional de Acción en favor de la Infancia 2002-2010 (the national action program for children), the blueprint for the Mexican response to the Special 2012 Session of the United Nations. Working in a voluntary capacity with the Ministry of Health from 2000 to 2006, she led much of the analysis on financing and health spending that translated into the design of the Seguro Popular.

Her research focuses on global health, violence against women and children, gender-based violence, cancer and especially breast cancer, access to pain relief and palliative care, health systems and reform, health financing, women and health, medical employment, poverty and inequity, female labor force participation, and at-risk children and youth.

Dr. Knaul has produced 325 academic and policy publications (h-index: 42; over 8,800 citations). Most notable among them is the Lancet Commission report, `Alleviating the access abyss in palliative care and pain relief – an imperative of universal health coverage´ which she lead-authored. Dubbed a “landmark report” by the Lancet,  the research was featured in the BBC, the Washington Post, Project Syndicate, The Guardian, and Voice of America and has spawned an array of research papers, new data collection initiatives, and advocacy and policy work including being officially adopted by the International Narcotics Control Board to assess country need and performance. 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. The findings she contributed have been incorporated into global policy making by the World Health Organization. This Commission has also spawned and stream of reseach initiative and she leads and international group of scholars preparing follow-up submissions refining the estimates of gender differentials in paid and unpaid contributions to health and caregiving and on gender and caregiving, including an invited submission to Nature Medicine for the Series on women’s health throughout the life course.

She has authored and served as lead editor of several books and special issues of journals, 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), Caleidoscopio de la Salud. De la Investigación a las Políticas y de las Políticas a la Acción, and Inclusión educativa para niños, niñas y jóvenes hospitalizados (Fondo de Cultura Económica e Intersistemas 2006), and Salud Pública de México, Edición Especial sobre Cáncer de Mama: un reto para la sociedad y los sistemas de salud 2009.

In 2023 she was the lead author on the third in a series of health policy papers in The Lancet on Mexico´s health system covering both the dismantling of the 2003 health reform and the response to COVID. This paper follows on the 2012 review of the health reform and The Lancet 2006 Mexico series that she also chaired. Her work on Seguro Popular and financial protection in Mexico won the 2005 Global Development Network Prize for Outstanding Research on Change in the Health Sector.

Dr. Knaul maintains a strong and synergistic global program of research and translation of research into policy making and contributes to an array of research networks and organizations that promote and disseminate evidence. She currently Co-Chairs the Lancet Commission on Cancer and Health Systems and Lancet Commission on Gender-based Violence and Maltreatment of Young People. From 2014-2017, she founded and co-chaired (with Dr. Paul Farmer) the Lancet Commission on Global Access to Palliative Care and Pain Relief and that work has now spawned a highly productive global research hub working under her leadership that initiated in 2021. In 2020 and 2021 she brought together and led a group of researchers from eight Latin America countries to collect and analyze data on COVID-19 and sub-national policymaking that resulted in multiple group-science papers and new health systems research. She founded and directed the Harvard 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. Dr. Knaul also coordinated the Global Network for Health Equity, an initiative that brought together researchers from Latin America, in association with the Asia EQUITAP network and the Africa SHIELD network with funding from IDRC Canada.

She serves on the Lancet Commission on the Value of Death, and currently serves on the Lancet Commission on Breast Cancer as well as on the international advisory board of The Lancet Global Health and The Lancet Regional Health – Americas. She also sits on the boards of several not-for-profits dedicated to undertaking and disseminating global health research including Casa de Esperanza, the International Association for Hospice & Palliative Care, and was on the board of the Union for International Cancer Control (2010-2014) and Women in Global Health (2020-2023). She has worked with bilateral and multilateral agencies such as the World Health Organization and the World Bank and has participated in several global policy reports.

Based on research accomplishments, Dr. Knaul was made a member of the Mexican National Academy of Medicine, was inducted into the Canadian Academy of Health Scienes in 2020 and as an Honorary Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing in 2021, and was awarded Senior Level III of the Mexican National System of Researchers in 2018.

She has received several recognitions of her work and most recently, in 2024, was inducted in the International Women´s Forum. She was named “Local Hero” by the American Medical Women’s Association in 2016, and one of Mexico’s most influential women in 2013. She was awarded “Flama, Vida y Mujer” by the Autonomous University of the State of Nuevo Leon, and the Global Health Catalyst Award by students of Harvard University. She is a recognized leader in South Florida and received the Philanthropy Award from Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden and has been featured in the Boca Raton Observer, Indulge Magazine, and Ocean Drive.

Dr. Knaul is a citizen of Canada and the United Kingdom, and a permanent resident of Mexico.  She and her husband, Dr. Julio Frenk, have two children, Sofia Hannah (27) and Mariana Havivah (19). Her brother, Jonathan Knaul, is a retired Major of the Canadian Armed Forces with multiple tours of duty and is now a test pilot based in Los Angeles, California. Her other activities include equestrianism, yoga and swimming and walks with her dogs Petunia, Shimmy and Bingo.