Felicia Knaul

Professor, Department of Public Health Sciences at the Miller School of Medicine
Director, Miami Institute for the Americas

Felicia KnaulAn international health economist and expert in Latin American health systems and social sectors, Felicia Knaul, Ph.D., is a professor in the University of Miami’s Department of Public Health Sciences at the Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine. She is also director of the Miami Institute for the Americas.

Knaul – who is married to UM President Julio Frenk – is also keenly interested in student life on campus, and University activities. The couple, who reside at Ibis House at Smathers Four Fillies Farm, have two daughters, Hannah Sofia and Mariana Havivah. Mariana is attending middle school in Coral Gables, and Hannah is enrolled in college in Mexico.

Collaborating with faculty at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami, she contributes to research and teaching in cancer and global health as well as catalyzes the University's research presence throughout the Americas focusing on policy development.

The Miami Institute for the Americas focuses on policy analysis in all sectors including the humanities, the arts, and social and economic development.

Knaul most recently served as director of the Harvard Global Equity Initiative and associate professor at Harvard Medical School.

Knaul’s research focuses on global health, cancer and breast cancer in low- and middle-income countries, women and health, health systems and reform, health financing, access to pain control and palliative care, poverty and inequity, gender equity and female labor force participation, and children in especially difficult circumstances. She has produced over 180 academic and policy publications, including several papers on Mexico and health reform in The Lancet where she also recently co-authored the Commission Report on Women and Health.

She has held senior government posts in Mexico and Colombia and worked for bilateral and multilateral agencies including the World Health Organization, the World Bank, and UNICEF. She maintains a research base in Mexico anchored at the Mexican Health Foundation and the National Institute of Public Health of Mexico.

Knaul works as both a researcher and advocate on cancer globally. After she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007, 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. Her journey is documented in her book Beauty without the Breast, and has been featured in The Lancet, Science and Cancer Today. Her research program on breast cancer and health systems spawned the Global Task Force on Expanded Access to Cancer Care and Control, and she is now chair of the Lancet Commission on Global Access to Pain Control and Palliative Care.

After earning her B.A. in Economics and International Development from the University of Toronto, Knaul received a M.A. and Ph.D. in Economics from Harvard University. She is a citizen of Canada and the UK and a permanent resident of Mexico.

The family moved to Florida from Sudbury, Mass. with their dogs, Tikvot and Lupi. They also maintain a home in Cuernavaca, Mexico.

  • President Julio Frenk and Felicia Knaul throw up the U
  • President Julio Frenk, Felicia Knaul and family