The Activist Lab

Activist Lab’s many efforts are guided by three principles – education, innovation, and advocacy. The Lab coordinates a variety of seminars and symposia and organizes more than 200 training activities a year, reaching state and local health department employees, community health workers, and school health personnel. It comes up with solutions for public health problems. And it engages in direct advocacy, preparing information to present to legislators, sending SPH experts around the world to advise and testify, and mining SPH’s vast research efforts for information that might make a difference in public health practice.

“Activist Lab is a vehicle to do real world in public health,” says Professor Harold Cox, the lab’s director. “It’s an opportunity to engage our entire community – our students and faculty, our neighbors in Boston, and people in the public health profession.”

The Lab’s recent efforts include a partnership with a local foundation to bring dental care to impoverished elderly people; program support at the Blackstone Community Center’s Boston University Fitness & Wellness Center, used today by some 800 local residents; and routine outings to bring water bottles to people living on the streets. Gifts to Activist Lab activities can, among other things, help cover purchases such as supplies for community improvement projects, underwrite the costs of a high-level symposium, or pay to send an SPH expert across the country to make a case before a government agency.


  • $2.5 million to endow a professorship for faculty with specific expertise in translating research into practice
  • $1 million to endow a BU Public Health Practice Fund in a specific area of research translation
  • $200,000 to create Community Building Partnerships
  • $150,000 to develop a health equity-focused workforce training series and convene subject matter experts
  • $15,000-$50,000 to fund student activism micro-grants or fund community-based learning and immersive projects
  • $10,000 to fund a 3-5 month field placement for an Activist Fellow, a student working with a nonprofit or government agency on a long-term, systemic, public health issue