Dr. Abdul El-Sayed is a physician, epidemiologist, progressive activist, educator, author, speaker, and podcast host. He is the Chair of Southpaw Michigan and a Political Contributor at CNN. He serves as a Sanders appointee and one of eight members of Vice President Biden’s 2020 Unity Task Force for Healthcare. His book, Healing Politics: A Doctor’s Journey into the Heart of Our Political Epidemic (Abrams Press), diagnoses our country’s epidemic of insecurity and the empathy politics we will need to treat it, and his forthcoming book Medicare for All: A Citizen’s Guide (Oxford University Press, 2021) co-authored with Dr. Micah Johnson, offers a no nonsense guide to the policy. He is the host of “America Dissected,” a podcast by Crooked Media, which goes beyond the headlines to explore what really matters for our health. He is a Scholar-in-Residence at Wayne State University and American University, where he teaches at the intersection between public health, public policy, and politics. He was previously a Sine Fellow at American University’s Sine Institute of Policy & Politics, and Pritzker Fellow at the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics.
In 2018, Abdul ran for Governor of Michigan on an unapologetically progressive platform, advocating for universal healthcare, clean water for all, debt-free and tuition-free higher education, a pathway to 100% renewable energy, and to rebuild the barrier between corporations and government. His bid was endorsed by Senator Bernie Sanders, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the Nation, and Current Affairs. And though he earned over 340,000 votes, he finished second of three in the Democratic Primary.
Prior, he served as Health Commissioner in the City of Detroit, appointed to rebuild the City’s health department after it was privatized during municipal bankruptcy. He was the youngest health official in a major US city. Responsible for the health and safety of over 670,000 Detroiters, the Detroit Health Department became a state and national leader in public health innovation and environmental justice, in one of the fastest municipal public health turnarounds in American history. He was awarded “Public Official of the Year” by the Michigan League of Conservation Voters and “40 under 40” by Crain’s Detroit Business.
As a professor at Columbia University’s Department of Epidemiology, Abdul became an internationally recognized expert in health policy and health inequalities. He was Director of the Columbia University Systems Science Program and Global Research Analytics for Population Health. He has over 100 peer-reviewed publications that have earned over 1700 citations, including a foundational textbook on Systems Science & Population Health (Oxford University Press, 2016).
Abdul holds a doctorate in Public Health from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar, as well as a medical degree from Columbia University, where he was a Medical Scientist Training Program Fellow and a Soros New Americans Fellow. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa with Highest Distinction from the University of Michigan, where he was chosen to deliver the student commencement speech alongside President Bill Clinton. He was awarded the University of Michigan Bicentennial Alumni Award in 2017.
He is a native Michigander who was born and raised in Metro Detroit, where he lives with his wife, Sarah, a mental health doctor, and daughter Emmalee. He is a proud member of UAW Local 1981, AFT Local 477, and SEIU Local 500. He enjoys good people, good coffee, good food, sports, and University of Michigan football.