Ashwin Vasan

Ashwin Vasan, MSc, MD, PhD is a primary care physician and public health expert with more than 15 years of experience working to improve health, social welfare, and public policy for vulnerable populations. Since 2014 he has been on the faculty at Mailman, where he leads a graduate seminar on implementation science and global health, and at the College of Physicians and Surgeons where he cares for low-income, Medicaid/Medicare or uninsured patients from Washington Heights, Harlem, and the South Bronx as a primary care internist at Columbia University Irving Medical Center/NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. His current work is focused at the intersection of health equity, public policy, and our domestic political system, with an aim to foster a more representative political discourse around health and its social determinants in the public square. From 2016-2019 Dr Vasan was appointed as the founding Executive Director of the Health Access Equity Unit at the New York City Department of Health & Mental Hygiene, a first of its kind public sector health program that leverages the agency's assets in surveillance, research, program design, implementation science, and policy development to improve community-based health and human services for the most vulnerable and overlooked populations in the City, including people involved in the criminal justice system, refugees/asylees, undocumented, and chronically homeless. In this role, built the bureau and led the development of the NYC Health Justice Network, a health and social sector partnership providing trauma-informed, peer-led community-based health and human services to people involved in the justice system and their families. This role built off of Dr Vasan's decade of experience at the intersection of global health and primary care working with Partners In Health (PIH) in Rwanda, Lesotho, and Boston, and the World Health Organization in Uganda and Geneva (under recently-departed World Bank President Jim Yong Kim). Dr Vasan worked as a Technical Officer on the WHO/UNAIDS "3by5 Initiative" to expand antiretroviral treatment access in the developing world, and subsequently supported the Ugandan Ministry of Health in scale-up and quality improvement of HIV treatment in four districts in the southwest of the country, the first areas to attempt front-line treatment. At PIH he supported programs in Boston, Lesotho, and Rwanda, where he led efforts to improve primary care delivery using WHO Integrated Management guidelines. At Mailman, prior to departing for NYC DOHMH, Dr Vasan was also the Deputy Director of the ARCHES (Advancing Research on Comprehensive Health Systems) program, a $17M Doris-Duke funded program of community health systems development and implementation science in Ghana and Tanzania. Dr Vasan also holds non-clinical appointments as an Associate Physician in the Division of Global Health Equity at the Brigham & Women's Hospital/Harvard Medical School, and as an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Population Health at New York University School of Medicine.

Research Interests

Community Development
Health Inequities
Social Determinants
Social Policy
Social Support
Trauma Informed Care
Urban Equity
Urban Health
Urban Planning
Urban Policy


Medicaid Data
NYC Survey Data (e.g. Community Health Survey, Housing and Vacancy Survey)
NYC Administrative Data