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Sean Sylvia, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Health Policy Management


As a health and development economist, Sean Sylvia researches ways to improve the delivery of health care in low and middle-income countries. Most of his work has been in China, where he has studied interventions to improve early childhood health and development, school-based health and nutrition programs, the quality of primary care provided by rural clinicians, the use of antibiotics, and other topics.

Sean Sylvia is Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Gillings School of Global Public Health. Sylvia is trained as an economist and has led several research studies in China on social and behavioral determinants of health and the delivery of health services. He has 11 years of research experience in China and has long-term, close collaborations with researchers and practitioners around the country. He began conducting research in China in 2007-2008 when he was based at the Northwest Socioeconomic Development Research Center (NSDRC) in Xi'an on a Fulbright fellowship. He continued to be involved with research in China throughout his graduate studies and, after obtaining his PhD from the University of Maryland, took a position in China for three years as an Assistant Professor at the School of Economics, Renmin University of China in Beijing. Most of his research uses experimental or quasi-experimental methods to study the provision of health care in China's rural areas. He has led or co-led randomized controlled trials on the design of performance pay for health providers, training interventions for rural primary care providers, the implementation of school-based health and nutrition programs, and community health worker interventions to improve early childhood health and development. He has crossed a number of disciplines and worked on interdisciplinary teams in all his China work. His most recent focus is work on child health and cognitive development.

    Last Updated: 2020-08-04