Dr. Abdul El-Sayed is a physician, epidemiologist, public health expert, and progressive activist. He is chair of Southpaw Michigan and a senior fellow at the Governing Institute. His forthcoming book Moral Medicine (Abrams Press) diagnoses our country’s epidemic of insecurity and the empathy politics we will need to treat it.
In 2018, Dr. El-Sayed ran for governor of Michigan on an unapologetically progressive platform, advocating for universal healthcare, clean water for all, debt-free and tuition-free higher education, a pathway to 100% renewable energy, and rebuilding the barrier between corporations and government. His bid was endorsed by Senator Bernie Sanders, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, The Nation, and Current Affairs. He earned over 340,000 votes and finished second of three in the Democratic primary.
Dr. El-Sayed served as Health Commissioner for the City of Detroit, appointed to rebuild the city’s health department after it was privatized during municipal bankruptcy. He was the youngest health official in a major US city. Responsible for the health and safety of over 670,000 Detroiters, the Detroit Health Department became a state and national leader in public health innovation and environmental justice in one of the fastest municipal public health turnarounds in American history. He was awarded “Public Official of the Year” by the Michigan League of Conservation Voters and “40 under 40” by Crain’s Detroit Business.
As a tenure track faculty member in Columbia University's epidemiology department, Dr. El-Sayed became an internationally recognized expert in health policy and health inequalities. He was Director of the Columbia University Systems Science Program and Global Research Analytics for Population Health. He has over 100 peer-reviewed publications that have earned over 1200 citations and is co-editor of the foundational textbook Systems Science and Population Health (Oxford University Press).
Dr. El-Sayed holds a doctorate in Public Health from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar, and a medical degree from Columbia University, where he was a Medical Scientist Training Program fellow and a Soros New Americans fellow. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa with highest distinction from the University of Michigan, where he was chosen to deliver the student commencement speech alongside President Bill Clinton.
He is a native Michigander born and raised in Metro Detroit, where he lives with his wife, Sarah, a mental health doctor, and daughter, Emmalee. He enjoys good people, good coffee, good food, sports, and University of Michigan Football. He is a proud member of UAW local 1981.