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Robert Swan Lawrence, M.D.

Photo of Dr. Robert Swan Lawrence, M.D.
  • Joint Appointment in Medicine

Research Interests

Environment; Agriculture; Food security; Human rights; Food systems


Dr. Robert Lawrence holds a joint appointment in medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He is a professor of environmental health sciences and of international health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

His research focuses on the environmental impacts of industrial agriculture, food security and human rights. Dr. Lawrence was the founding director of the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

He earned his M.D. from Harvard Medical School. 

Prior to joining Johns Hopkins, Dr. Lawrence was an internal medicine physician. He served as an epidemic intelligence service office for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and later as the director of health sciences at the Rockefeller Foundation. 

Dr. Lawrence is a master of the American College of Physicians and a fellow of the American College of Preventive Medicine. He is also a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, the Association for Prevention Teaching and Research, the American Public Health Association and Physicians for Human Rights. more


  • Joint Appointment in Medicine

Departments / Divisions

Research & Publications

Selected Publications

Neff RA, Parker CL, Kirschenmann FL, Tinch J, Lawrence RS. "Peak oil, food systems and public health." AJPH. 2011; 101(9):1587-1597.

Wang Y, Beydoun MA, Caballero B, Gary TL, Lawrence RS. "Trends and correlates in meat consumption patterns in the U.S. adult population." Public Health Nutr. 2010 Sep;13(9):1333-45.

Neff RA, Palmer AM, McKenzie SE, Lawrence RS. "Food systems and public health disparities." J Hunger & Env Nutrition. 2009; 4:282-314.

Lawrence RS, Chan I, Goodman E. "Poverty, food security, and the right to health." Georgetown J on Poverty Law & Policy. 2008; 25(3):583-604.

Sapkota A, Sapkota AR, Kucharski M, Burke J, McKenzie S, Walker P, Lawrence RS. "Aquaculture practices and potential human health risks: Current knowledge and future priorities." Environ Int. 2008; doi:10.1016/j.envint.2008.04.009.

Academic Affiliations & Courses

Courses and Syllabi

  • Food Systems and Public Health (180.620.81)
    Internet-based Course
  • Human Rights and Health (180.636.01)
  • Special Topics in Health and Human Rights: Public Health Implications of Health as a Human Right (180.600.13)
  • Problem Solving in Public Health (550.608.19)
  • Problem Solving in Public Health (550.608.13)

Activities & Honors


  • Fellow, American College of Preventive Medicine
  • Sedgwick Memorial Medal, APHA, 2009
  • Sidney Zubrow Award, Pennsylvania Hospital, 2008
  • Albert Schweitzer Humanitarianism Prize, 2002
  • Master, American College of Physicians, 1998
  • Founders Award, Physicians for Human Rights, 1997


  • Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences
  • Association for Prevention Teaching and Research
  • American Public Health Association
  • Physicians for Human Rights

Professional Activities

  • Founding Director, Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future
  • Chair, Physicians for Human Rights Board of Directors
  • Consultant, Task Force on Community Preventive Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1996

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