Ms Debarati Guha-Sapir was born in Calcutta, India and is currently Professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at the Louvain School of Medicine in Brussels. She studied epidemiology at Johns Hopkins University and University of Louvain, where she got her doctorate degree.
Ms Guha-Sapir started her career in Madison, Wisconsin studying the epidemiology of childhood linked to paper and pulp industry in the Fox River Valley, followed by working on a forecast model for needs and supply of medical graduates in the US. Since the early 1990s, she directs the World Health Organisation Centre, specialised in the epidemiology of natural disasters and civil conflicts.
Her research is largely field-based, undertaking studies in disaster-prone areas of Asia, Africa and Latin America. She has worked in communities struck by disasters, such as in Aceh and Tamil Nadu after the tsunami and Chad during the famines. Her work has also involved building up systems with national governments - helping set up disaster health information systems in Mozambique, Ethiopia, Sudan and elsewhere. Her work has been a mix of academic publishing and policy and field support. She founded the international reference disaster data EMDAT and is currently setting up a similar global system for data from civil conflicts.
Ms Guha-Sapir is also actively engaged with policy makers in the US, UK, UN and EU as well as on bilateral levels such as UK, US, Indonesia and India governments.