Nicholas Christakis

Nicholas Christakis's picture
Sterling Professor of Social and Natural Science
Ph.D., Sociology, University of Pennsylvania, 1995
M.D., Harvard Medical School, 1989
M.P.H., Harvard School of Public Health, 1988
Areas of Interest: 
Network Science; Health, Medicine and Biosocial Science; Biodemography; Quantitative Methodology
17 Hillhouse Avenue, Room 303
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Nicholas A. Christakis, MD, PhD, MPH, is a sociologist and physician who conducts research in the areas of social networks and biosocial science. He directs the Human Nature Lab.  

His current research is mainly focused on two topics: (1) the social, mathematical, and biological rules governing how social networks form (“connection”), and (2) the social and biological implications of how they operate to influence thoughts, feelings, and behaviors (“contagion”).  His lab uses both observational and experimental methods to study these phenomena, exploiting techniques from sociology, computer science, biosocial science, demography, statistics, behavior genetics, evolutionary biology, epidemiology, and other fields.
To the extent that diverse phenomena can spread within networks in intelligible ways, there are important policy implications since such spread can be exploited to improve the health or other desirable properties of groups (such as cooperation or innovation).  Hence, current work in the lab involves conducting field experiments: some work involves the use of large-scale, online network experiments; other work involves large-scale randomized controlled trials in the developing world where networks are painstakingly mapped. Finally, some work in the lab examines the biological determinants and consequences of social interactions and related phenomena, with a particular emphasis on the genetic origins and evolutionary implications of social networks. 
The author of four books and over 200 articles, Christakis was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences in 2006 and was made a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2010 and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2017.



  • Death Foretold: Prophecy and Prognosis in Medical Care (1999) ISBN 978-0226104706
  • Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives (2009) - with James Fowler ISBN 978-0316036146
  • Blueprint: The Evolutionary Origins of a Good Society (2019) ISBN 978-0316230032
  • Apollo’s Arrow: The Profound and Enduring Impact of Coronavirus on the Way We Live (2020) ISBN 978-0316628228


Courses and Seminars



  • SOCY 636, Biosocial Science


  • Yale Department of Medicine
  • Yale Institute for Network Science