The Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy is now open.  Our office hours are from: 9:00am - 5:00pm, Monday - Friday. Please refer to the COVID-19 Resource Guide for all matters related to the return to campus.  All visitors and vendors must fill out the Columbia University Health Screening Form.  We look forward to seeing you on campus.


Wilmot G. James

Senior Research Scholar
Adjunct Professor, School of Professional Studies; Chair, Center for Pandemic Research


Wilmot James, PhD is Senior Research Scholar at the Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy (ISERP). He received his PhD (Sociology and African History) from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Dr. James was a post-doctoral fellow of the Southern African Research Program at Yale University, the American Bar Foundation in Chicago and the Hannah Arendt Center at Bard College. Dr. James pursued his interest in science and society (James, Nature’s Gifts: Why we are the way we are, WITS University Press, 2010) as a visiting fellow at the Economic and Social Research Council at the University of Edinburgh and as the Gordon Moore Visiting Professor in the Humanities at the California Institute of Technology. Dr. James currently serves as Member of the Accessible Medicines Advisory Board of Chimeron Bio; Member of the Board: Resolve to Save Lives; and Co-Chair of the G7 National Frameworks Working Group - Global Partnership - Africa Signature Initiative on Biosecurity.

Dr. James is a policy specialist. He joined the University of Cape Town in 1986 as a member of the academic faculty in sociology, and became department chair in 1992. His research on labor migration (James, Our Precious Metal: African Labour in South Africa’s Gold Industry, Indiana University Press, 1992) led to his appointment as chairman of the task team that designed the first post-apartheid refugee protection and immigration policies under President Nelson Mandela. As a Member of Parliament and opposition spokesman on health and, given Africa’s disease burden and infectious disease outbreak patterns, Dr. James developed an enduring interest in global health security policy formulation and practice. He authored and edited twenty books and policy monographs, forty plus journal articles and book chapters and over 200 opinion/education articles. He is a contributing author to and editor of Vital Signs: Health Security in South Africa (Brenthurst Foundation, 2020). His greatest honor was to serve as a co-editor of the late President Nelson Mandela’s presidential speeches published as Nelson Mandela In His Own Words (Little Brown and Co, 2003). 

As Trustee of the Ford Foundation and Chairman of its Education, Media, Arts and Culture (EMAC) committee, Dr. James oversaw the introduction of a $320 million International Fellowship Program, the largest single program investment the Foundation ever made. Over 4,300 students graduated with masters level degrees worldwide with support from the Foundation.  

Dr. James current research interests are in global health security. He serves as a senior consultant to the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) in biosecurity. He is an honorary professor of public health at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa.


Ongoing Research Projects:

2021-2022 Vaccine Information Network. South Africa and Zimbabwe. Schmidt Futures. Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Principal Investigator.
2020-2022 Epidemic/Pandemic Response in Africa: Covid-19 in Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa. Schmidt Futures. Co-Principal Investigator with L. Stanberry, L. White and A. McClelland.
2020-2022 CHAMPS Impact Fund: Hospital Infection Survey - Pan-African Neonatal Care Assessment Survey. Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Role: Co-Investigator. 
2020-2022 Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons Program in Vaccine Education. Pfizer Inc. Role: Co-Investigator.
2018-2021 A Mapping Survey of Children’s Hospitals in Sub-Saharan Africa. ELMA Philanthropies Role: Co-Investigator with L. Stanberry and P. Larussa.


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