Felicia Knaul, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Medicine
  • Harvard Global Equity Initiative
  • 617/432-7937

Felicia Marie Knaul is associate professor at Harvard Medical School and director of the Harvard Global Equity Initiative, where she serves as director of the Global Task Force on Expanded Access to Cancer Care and Control, an initiative she helped to found in 2009. She is also senior economist at the Mexican Health Foundation. After being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007, Dr. Knaul founded the Mexican non-profit organization, Cáncer de Mama: Tómatelo a Pecho, a program that undertakes and promotes research, advocacy, awareness, and early detection initiatives for breast cancer in Latin America. She also currently leads a major project for the Harvard School of Public Health on breast cancer education and awareness in China. Dr. Knaul is a board member of numerous organizations including the Union for International Cancer Control; and has more than 130 academic and policy publications spanning topics including cancer care and control, women and health, and health system reform. Dr. Knaul has held senior government posts in Mexico and Colombia and has worked for bilateral and multilateral agencies including WHO, the World Bank, and UNICEF.

Research Interests:

  • Expanded access to cancer care and control in LMICs
  • Early detection and prevention of breast cancer
  • Health systems strengthening
  • Integrating cancer into the women and health agenda
  • Financial protection
  • Universal health coverage

Felicia Knaul, MA, PhD (Economics, Harvard University), is associate professor at Harvard Medical School and director of the Harvard Global Equity Initiative (HGEI), where she serves as director of the Global Task Force on Expanded Access to Cancer Care and Control (GTF.CCC), an initiative she helped to found in 2009. She is also senior economist at the Mexican Health Foundation, where she has worked since 1994.

Dr. Knaul chairs the Pan American Health Organization Task Force on Universal Health Coverage. She also directs the Global Network for Health Equity (GNHE), a project based at the Mexican Health Foundation and funded by IDRC-Canada that brings together more than 90 researchers from Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Asia. She is principal co-investigator and leads a project in collaboration with the Harvard School of Public Health and the Peking Union Medical College around breast cancer education and awareness in China.

She has held senior government posts in Mexico and Colombia, and participated in the design and implementation of health reforms in both countries. Dr. Knaul has also worked for bilateral and multilateral agencies, including the World Health Organization, the World Bank, and UNICEF, and is a board member and advisor to numerous organizations, including the Union for International Cancer Control and NCDFREE, a global social movement against non-communicable diseases.

After being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007, Dr. Knaul founded the Mexican non-profit organization, Cáncer de Mama: Tómatelo a Pecho, which promotes research, advocacy, awareness, and early detection initiatives for breast cancer in Latin America. Through Tómatelo a Pecho, thousands of health promoters, nurses, and physicians throughout Mexico have been trained to help women from low-income settings access timely care for breast cancer and reduce health disparities. Dr. Knaul’s publications on her cancer experience include Tómatelo a Pecho (Santillana, 2009) and Beauty without the Breast (Harvard University Press, 2012). 

Dr. Knaul has more than 130 academic and policy publications in English and Spanish, spanning topics that include health system reform, health equity, global health, global cancer care and control, women and health, and children in especially difficult circumstances. In 2012, Dr.Knaul led the publication of a major review of the Mexican health system published in The Lancet, a follow-up to chairing the 2006 Lancet series “Health System Reform in Mexico.”  She has published several academic articles on breast cancer in low- and middle-income countries and lectures extensively on the topic as both patient-advocate and health systems researcher. She also led the publication of the GTF.CCC’s major global report on cancer in 2011, and is lead-editor of the book Closing the Cancer Divide (Harvard University Press, 2012). She is a member of the joint Lancet-Harvard School of Public Health Commission on Women and Health, a contributor to the Lancet special series “Hidden and distinctive knowledge on Universal Health Coverage from Latin America,”and serves on the editorial boards of The Lancet Global Health, Health Policy and Planning, and International Social Security Review.

Dr. Knaul is a citizen of both Canada and the United Kingdom, and a permanent resident of Mexico, dividing her time between Boston and Cuernavaca. She and her husband, Dr. Julio Frenk, have two children, Hannah Sofia and Mariana Havivah.

  1. Steedman MR, Hughes-Hallett T, Knaul FM, Knuth A, Shamieh O, Darzi A. Innovation can improve and expand aspects of end-of-life care in low- and middle-income countries. September 1, 2014. Health affairs (Project Hope).

    Link to Abstract
  2. Rodin D, Jaffray D, Atun R, Knaul FM, Gospodarowicz M. The need to expand global access to radiotherapy. April 1, 2014. The lancet oncology.

    Link to Abstract
  3. Denburg AE, Knaul FM, Atun R, Frazier LA, Barr RD. Beyond the bench and the bedside: Economic and health systems dimensions of global childhood cancer outcomes. November 19, 2013. Pediatric blood & cancer.

    Link to Abstract
  4. Azenha GS, Parsons-Perez C, Goltz S, Bhadelia A, Durstine A, Knaul F, Torode J, Starrs A, McGuire H, Kidwell JD, Rojhani A, Lu R. Recommendations towards an integrated, life-course approach to women's health in the post-2015 agenda. September 1, 2013. Bulletin of the World Health Organization.

    Link to Abstract
  5. Bustreo F, Chestnov O, Knaul FM, Araujo de Carvalho I, Merialdi M, Temmerman M, Beard JR. At the crossroads: transforming health systems to address women's health across the life course. September 1, 2013. Bulletin of the World Health Organization.

    Link to Abstract
  6. Cardoso F, Bese N, Distelhorst SR, Bevilacqua JL, Ginsburg O, Grunberg SM, Gralla RJ, Steyn A, Pagani O, Partridge AH, Knaul FM, Aapro MS, Andersen BL, Thompson B, Gralow JR, Anderson BO. Supportive care during treatment for breast cancer: resource allocations in low- and middle-income countries. A Breast Health Global Initiative 2013 consensus statement. August 31, 2013. Breast (Edinburgh, Scotland).

    Link to Abstract
  7. Knaul FM, González-Pier E, Gómez-Dantés O, García-Junco D, Arreola-Ornelas H, Barraza-Lloréns M, Sandoval R, Caballero F, Hernández-Ávila M, Juan M, Kershenobich D, Nigenda G, Ruelas E, Sepúlveda J, Tapia R, Soberón G, Chertorivski S, Frenk J. [The quest for universal health coverage: achieving social protection for all in Mexico]. April 1, 2013. Salud pública de México.

    Link to Abstract
  8. Goss PE, Lee BL, Badovinac-Crnjevic T, Strasser-Weippl K, Chavarri-Guerra Y, St Louis J, Villarreal-Garza C, Unger-Saldaña K, Ferreyra M, Debiasi M, Liedke PE, Touya D, Werutsky G, Higgins M, Fan L, Vasconcelos C, Cazap E, Vallejos C, Mohar A, Knaul F, Arreola H, Batura R, Luciani S, Sullivan R, Finkelstein D, Simon S, Barrios C, Kightlinger R, Gelrud A, Bychkovsky V, Lopes G, Stefani S, Blaya M, Souza FH, Santos FS, Kaemmerer A, de Azambuja E, Zorilla AF, Murillo R, Jeronimo J, Tsu V, Carvalho A, Gil CF, Sternberg C, Dueñas-Gonzalez A, Sgroi D, Cuello M, Fresco R, Reis RM, Masera G, Gabús R, Ribeiro R, Knust R, Ismael G, Rosenblatt E, Roth B, Villa L, Solares AL, Leon MX, Torres-Vigil I, Covarrubias-Gomez A, Hernández A, Bertolino M, Schwartsmann G, Santillana S, Esteva F, Fein L, Mano M, Gomez H, Hurlbert M, Durstine A, Azenha G. Planning cancer control in Latin America and the Caribbean. April 1, 2013. The lancet oncology.

    Link to Abstract
  9. Atun R, Jaffar S, Nishtar S, Knaul FM, Barreto ML, Nyirenda M, Banatvala N, Piot P. Improving responsiveness of health systems to non-communicable diseases. February 12, 2013. Lancet.

    Link to Abstract
  10. Knaul FM, Atun R, Farmer P, Frenk J. Seizing the opportunity to close the cancer divide. February 4, 2013. Lancet.

    Link to Abstract
  11. Knaul FM, Chabner BA. Announcing a new section: global health and cancer. January 1, 2013. The oncologist.

    Link to Abstract
  12. Atun R, Knaul FM, Akachi Y, Frenk J. Innovative financing for health: what is truly innovative? October 24, 2012. Lancet.

    Link to Abstract
  13. Knaul FM, González-Pier E, Gómez-Dantés O, García-Junco D, Arreola-Ornelas H, Barraza-Lloréns M, Sandoval R, Caballero F, Hernández-Avila M, Juan M, Kershenobich D, Nigenda G, Ruelas E, Sepúlveda J, Tapia R, Soberón G, Chertorivski S, Frenk J. The quest for universal health coverage: achieving social protection for all in Mexico. August 16, 2012. Lancet.

    Link to Abstract
  14. Knaul FM, Bhadelia A, Gralow J, Arreola-Ornelas H, Langer A, Frenk J. Meeting the emerging challenge of breast and cervical cancer in low- and middle-income countries. August 9, 2012. International journal of gynaecology and obstetrics: the official organ of the International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics.

    Link to Abstract
  15. Chávarri-Guerra Y, Villarreal-Garza C, Liedke PE, Knaul F, Mohar A, Finkelstein DM, Goss PE. Breast cancer in Mexico: a growing challenge to health and the health system. August 1, 2012. The lancet oncology.

    Link to Abstract
  16. Bustreo F, Knaul FM, Bhadelia A, Beard J, Araujo de Carvalho I. Women's health beyond reproduction: meeting the challenges. July 1, 2012. Bulletin of the World Health Organization.

    Link to Abstract
  17. Knaul FM, Shulman LN, Gralow J, Quick J, Bhadelia A, Frenk J. Improving pathology for better cancer care and control in countries of low and middle income. June 2, 2012. Lancet.

    Link to Abstract
  18. Frenk J, Gómez-Dantés O, Knaul FM. Globalization and infectious diseases. July 2, 2011. Infectious disease clinics of North America.

    Link to Abstract
  19. Dantés OG, Knaul FM, Ponce EL, Sesma S, Arreola H. [Presentation. Atlas of the health systems of Latin America]. January 1, 2011. Salud pública de México.

    Link to Abstract
  20. Martínez S, Carrasquilla G, Guerrero R, Gómez-Dantés H, Castro V, Arreola-Ornelas H, Bedregal P. [Effective coverage of health interventions in Latin America and the Caribbean: metrics for the assessment of health systems performance]. January 1, 2011. Salud pública de México.

    Link to Abstract
  21. Gómez Dantés O, Sesma S, Becerril VM, Knaul FM, Arreola H, Frenk J. [The health system of Mexico]. January 1, 2011. Salud pública de México.

    Link to Abstract
  22. Knaul FM, Wong R, Arreola-Ornelas H, Méndez O. Household catastrophic health expenditures: a comparative analysis of twelve Latin American and Caribbean Countries. January 1, 2011. Salud pública de México.

    Link to Abstract
  23. Shulman LN, Willett W, Sievers A, Knaul FM. Breast cancer in developing countries: opportunities for improved survival. December 29, 2010. Journal of oncology.

    Link to Abstract
  24. Farmer P, Frenk J, Knaul FM, Shulman LN, Alleyne G, Armstrong L, Atun R, Blayney D, Chen L, Feachem R, Gospodarowicz M, Gralow J, Gupta S, Langer A, Lob-Levyt J, Neal C, Mbewu A, Mired D, Piot P, Reddy KS, Sachs JD, Sarhan M, Seffrin JR. Expansion of cancer care and control in countries of low and middle income: a call to action. August 13, 2010. Lancet.

    Link to Abstract
  25. Frenk J, Gómez-Dantés O, Knaul FM. The democratization of health in Mexico: financial innovations for universal coverage. July 1, 2009. Bulletin of the World Health Organization.

    Link to Abstract
  26. Knaul FM, Nigenda G, Lozano R, Arreola-Ornelas H, Langer A, Frenk J. [Breast cancer in Mexico: an urgent priority]. January 1, 2009. Salud pública de México.

    Link to Abstract
  27. Knaul FM. [A woman facing breast cancer in Mexico]. January 1, 2009. Salud pública de México.

    Link to Abstract
  28. Knaul F, Bustreo F, Ha E, Langer A. Breast cancer: why link early detection to reproductive health interventions in developing countries? January 1, 2009. Salud pública de México.

    Link to Abstract
  29. Knaul FM, Arreola-Ornelas H, Velázquez E, Dorantes J, Méndez O, Avila-Burgos L. [The health care costs of breast cancer: the case of the Mexican Social Security Institute]. January 1, 2009. Salud pública de México.

    Link to Abstract
  30. Knaul FM, López Carrillo L, Lazcano Ponce E, Gómez Dantés H, Romieu I, Torres G. [Breast cancer: a challenge for society and health systems]. January 1, 2009. Salud pública de México.

    Link to Abstract
  31. Knaul FM, Nigenda G, Lozano R, Arreola-Ornelas H, Langer A, Frenk J. Breast cancer in Mexico: a pressing priority. November 1, 2008. Reproductive health matters.

    Link to Abstract
  32. Knaul FM, Héctor AO, Escandón P. [Competitiveness among health and the health sector. A new look at the health economics paradigm]. March 1, 2007. Gaceta médica de México.

    Link to Abstract
  33. Knaul FM, Arreola-Ornelas H, Méndez-Carniado O, Bryson-Cahn C, Barofsky J, Maguire R, Miranda M, Sesma S. [Evidence is good for your health system: policy reform to remedy catastrophic and impoverishing health spending in Mexico]. January 1, 2007. Salud pública de México.

    Link to Abstract
  34. Frenk J, González-Pier E, Gómez-Dantés O, Lezana MA, Knaul FM. [Comprehensive reform to improve health system performance in Mexico]. January 1, 2007. Salud pública de México.

    Link to Abstract
  35. Knaul FM, Frenk J, Horton R. [Health system reform in Mexico]. January 1, 2007. Salud pública de México.

    Link to Abstract
  36. Knaul FM, Arreola-Ornelas H, Méndez-Carniado O, Bryson-Cahn C, Barofsky J, Maguire R, Miranda M, Sesma S. Evidence is good for your health system: policy reform to remedy catastrophic and impoverishing health spending in Mexico. November 18, 2006. Lancet.

    Link to Abstract
  37. Frenk J, González-Pier E, Gómez-Dantés O, Lezana MA, Knaul FM. Comprehensive reform to improve health system performance in Mexico. October 28, 2006. Lancet.

    Link to Abstract
  38. Knaul FM, Frenk J. Health insurance in Mexico: achieving universal coverage through structural reform. November 1, 2005. Health affairs (Project Hope).

    Link to Abstract
  39. Knaul FM, Arreola-Ornelas H, Méndez O. [Financial protection in health: Mexico, 1992 to 2004]. November 1, 2005. Salud pública de México.

    Link to Abstract
  40. Knaul F, Arreola-Ornelas H, Méndez O, Martínez A. [Fair health financing and catastrophic health expenditures: potential impact of the coverage extension of the popular health insurance in Mexico]. January 1, 2005. Salud pública de México.

    Link to Abstract
  41. Frenk J, Sepúlveda J, Gómez-Dantés O, Knaul F. Evidence-based health policy: three generations of reform in Mexico. November 15, 2003. Lancet.

    Link to Abstract
  42. Sesma-Vázquez S, Campuzano-Rincón JC, Carreón-Rodríguez VG, Knaul F, López-Antuñano FJ, Hernández-Avila M. [Trends of tobacco demand in Mexico: 1992-1998]. January 1, 2002. Salud pública de México.

    Link to Abstract
  43. Frenk J, Knaul F. Health and the economy: empowerment through evidence. January 1, 2002. World hospitals and health services : the official journal of the International Hospital Federation.

    Link to Abstract
  44. Frenk J, Knaul F. Health and the economy: empowerment through evidence. January 1, 2002. Bulletin of the World Health Organization.

    Link to Abstract
  45. Knaul F, Frenk J, Aguilar AM. The gender composition of the medical profession in Mexico: implications for employment patterns and physician labor supply. January 1, 2000. Journal of the American Medical Women's Association (1972).

    Link to Abstract
  46. Frenk J, Knaul FM, Vázquez-Segovia LA, Nigenda G. Trends in medical employment: persistent imbalances in urban Mexico. July 1, 1999. American journal of public health.

    Link to Abstract
  47. Jamison DT, Frenk J, Knaul F. International collective action in health: objectives, functions, and rationale. February 14, 1998. Lancet.

    Link to Abstract
  48. Frenk J, Sepúlveda J, Gómez-Dantés O, McGuinness MJ, Knaul F. The New World order and international health. May 10, 1997. BMJ (Clinical research ed.).

    Link to Abstract
  49. Knaul F, Parker S. [Day care and female employment in Mexico: descriptive evidence and policy considerations]. September 1, 1996. Estudios demográficos y urbanos.

    Link to Abstract
  50. Knaul F, Vasconcelos A. Passage House as model for AIDS education of street children. January 1, 1991. AIDS education and prevention : official publication of the International Society for AIDS Education.

    Link to Abstract
  • Harvard Global Equity Initiative
  • Division of Global Health Equity, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital
     

Harvard Medical School
Harvard Global Equity Initiative, FXB, Rm 632
651 Huntington Ave
Boston MA 02115