Dennis Ross-Degnan


Throughout his career, Dennis Ross-Degnan’s main academic focus has been developing evidence-based strategies for improving use of medicines. Dr. Ross-Degnan is Associate Professor at the Department of Population Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Director of Research at Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute. For over thirty years, Dr. Ross-Degnan has focused on improving health systems both in the US and in low- and middle-income countries, addressing behavioral and systems factors that determine use of medicines, impacts of health and pharmaceutical policies on utilization and clinical outcomes, and appropriate methods for health and pharmaceutical systems research.

Dr. Ross-Degnan has served as a lead or senior investigator on many domestic and international research studies to evaluate health systems initiatives to improve quality and outcomes of care, including studies examining: interactive education; pharmaceutical and insurance benefit design; systems interventions to improve ARV adherence; high deductible health plans for patients with chronic illness; using hospital-based community health workers to reduce hospital readmissions; electronic and telephone outreach to health providers and patients to improve utilization; and systems interventions in low resource settings to promote appropriate prescribing and use of medicines.

Dr. Ross-Degnan collaborates extensively with members of the International Network for Rational Use of Drugs (INRUD), an interdisciplinary network of academics, health managers, and policymakers that he co-founded in 1990. With INRUD colleagues, he has developed accessible, robust, globally accepted methods to: measure medicines use, prices, and intervention effects; systematically evaluate evidence; disseminate results; and build human capacity. Dr. Ross-Degnan and colleagues developed a two-week INRUD-WHO Promoting Rational Drug Use Course, a modular, problem-oriented, interactive course to introduce researchers and policy makers to concepts in improving medicines use, which was offered annually for over 20 years in Africa and Asia. He chaired the Scientific Program Committees for the first two International Conferences on Improving Use of Medicines (ICIUM 1997 and 2004) and served as senior member for the Scientific Program Committee in ICIUM 2011.

He has also collaborated extensively with WHO and other international organizations on global issues in pharmaceutical policy, serving as co-Director of a WHO Collaborating Center on Pharmaceutical Policy from 2004 to 2013.

Dr. Ross-Degnan holds a doctorate in health policy and management from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Thus far, Dr. Ross-Degnan has mentored more than 70 PhD students and post-doctoral fellows from 22 countries. He received the A. Clifford Barger Excellence in Mentoring Award from Harvard Medical School and the Klaus Peter International Teaching Award for distinction in international medical education and mentoring from Harvard Medical International and Harvard Medical School.

Dr. Ross-Degnan has over 200 publications listed on PubMed. Some recent publications of note include:

Ross-Degnan D, Vialle-Valentin C, Briggs J. Improving Medicines Access and Use for Child Health: A Guide to Developing Interventions. US Agency for International Development by the Systems for Improved Access to Pharmaceuticals and Services (SIAPS) Program. Arlington, VA: Management Sciences for Health: 2015.

Wagner AK, Wirtz VJ, Bigdeli M, Ho CWL, Ross-Degnan D. The role of medicines in achieving universal health coverage. In Bigdeli M, Peters DH, Wagner AK (Eds.) Medicines in health systems: advancing access, affordability and appropriate use. Geneva; World Health Organization: 2014.

Chalker JC, Vialle-Valentin C, Liana J, Mbwasi R, Semali IA, Kihiyo B, Shekalaghe E, Dillip A, Kimatta S, Valimba R, Embrey M, Lieber R, Rutta E, Johnson K, Ross-Degnan D.  What roles do accredited drug dispensing outlets in Tanzania play in facilitating access to antimicrobials? Results of a multi-method analysis. Antimicrob Resist Infect Control. 2015 Aug 20;4:33.

Vialle-Valentin C, Brian Serumaga B, Wagner AK, Ross-Degnan D.  Evidence on access to medicines for chronic diseases from household surveys in five low- and middle-income countries.  Health Policy and Planning 2015 30: 1044-1052.

Balaban RB, Galbraith AA, Burns ME, Vialle-Valentin CE, Larochelle MR, Ross-Degnan D. A Patient Navigator intervention to reduce hospital readmissions among high-risk safety-net patients: A randomized controlled trial. J Gen Intern Med. 2015 Jul;30(7):907-15.