Harsha Thirumurthy, PhD


  •  Professor of Medical Ethics and Health Policy | University of Pennsylvania
  •  India | Kenya | Uganda | South Africa
  •   Health economics | HIV/AIDS | Non-communicable disease | Nutrition

Languages: English (native), Tamil, Kiswahili, Spanish

Bio statement

Harsha Thirumurthy is an economist and Professor in the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy. His research interests are at the intersection of economics and public health. Dr. Thirumurthy has led numerous studies in Africa and South Asia. At Penn, Dr. Thirumurthy co-directs the Behavioral Economics and Global Health Insights Lab and holds several leadership roles. In 2020, he co-founded the Indlela nudge unit in South Africa. He earned a Ph.D. in economics from Yale University and previously served on the faculty at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health.

Recent global health projects

1. Akiba: A savings intervention to reduce men's engagement in HIV risk behaviors

2. Indlela: Behavioural Insights for Better Health 

Selected publications

Buttenheim, A., & Thirumurthy, H. (2024). Mobile delivery of COVID-19 vaccines improved uptake in rural Sierra Leone. Nature, 627(8004), 497-499. https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-023-03186-0

Richterman A, Roberto CA, Thirumurthy H. Associations Between Ending Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Emergency Allotments and Food Insufficiency. JAMA Health Forum. 2023;4(8):e232511. doi:10.1001/jamahealthforum.2023.2511

Thirumurthy H, Bair EF, Ochwal P, Marcus N, Putt M, Maman S, Napierala S, Agot K. The effect of providing women sustained access to HIV self-tests on male partner testing, couples testing, and HIV incidence in Kenya: a cluster-randomized trial. Lancet HIV. 2021 Dec;8(12):e736-e746. doi: 10.1016/S2352-3018(21)00248-4. PMID: 34856179.

Sibanda EL, Tumushime M, Mufuka J, Mavedzenge SN, Gudukeya S, Bautista-Arredondo S, Hatzold K, Thirumurthy H, McCoy SI, Padian N, Copas A, Cowan FM (2017). Effect of non-monetary incentives on uptake of couples' counselling and testing among clients attending mobile HIV services in rural Zimbabwe: a cluster-randomised trial. Lancet Global Health 2017 Sep; 5(9):907-915. doi: 10.1016/S2214-109X(17)30296-6.

Jakubowski AE, Stearns SC, Angeles G, Kruk ME, Thirumurthy H (2017). The US President's Malaria Initiative and under-five child mortality in sub-Saharan Africa. PLOS Medicine 2017 June; 14(6). doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1002319.

Thirumurthy H, Masters SH, Napierala Mavedzenge S, Maman S, Omanga E, Agot K (2016). Promoting male partner testing and safer sexual decision-making through secondary distribution of HIV self-tests by HIV-uninfected female sex workers and women receiving antenatal and postpartum care in Kenya: a cohort study. The Lancet HIV 2016; 3(6): e266–e274. doi: 10.1016/S2352-3018(16)00041-2. 

Thirumurthy H, Masters SH, Rao S, Bronson MA, Lanham M, Omanga E, Evens E, Agot K (2014). Effect of providing conditional economic compensation on uptake of voluntary medical male circumcision in Kenya: a randomized clinical trial. JAMA 2014; 312(7):703-711. doi: 10.1001/jama.2014.9087.

Thirumurthy H, Graff Zivin J (2012). Health and labor supply in the context of HIV/AIDS: the long-run economic impacts on antiretroviral therapy. Economic Development and Cultural Change 2012; 61(1):73-96. doi: 10.1086/666954. 

Graff Zivin J, Thirumurthy H, Goldstein M (2009). AIDS treatment and intrahousehold resource allocations: children’s nutrition and schooling in Kenya. Journal of Public Economics 2009; 93:1008-15. doi: 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2009.03.003.

Last Updated: 03 May 2024