Natalie Dean, PhD

Natalie Dean

Assistant Professor, Department of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics  
Co-director, Emory Alliance for Vaccine Epidemiology  


“That’s the draw of a campus where the faculty, staff, and students alike are energized about improving health and engaging in impactful research." 


Natalie Dean is a public health problem-solver. She uses quantitative data to untangle complex public health issues under the umbrellas of infectious disease epidemiology and vaccine study design.  

She uses flexible and model-informed trial frameworks tailored to the outbreak setting, as well as observational study designs to test interventions against diseases like Ebola, Zika, chikungunya, dengue, Lassa fever, influenza, and COVID-19.  

A current major project of Dean’s is her role as co-director of the Emory Alliance for Vaccine Epidemiology, a center devoted to studying vaccine performance, uptake, and behavior patterns for COVID-19 and beyond.  

Dean also serves as co-principal investigator of the recently funded Emory Center for Infectious Disease Modeling and Analytics Training Hub. This hub, supported by $17.5 million in funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), will support the development of a pipeline of new analytical methods, tools, and platforms for modeling efforts that will ultimately inform public health decision makers during public health emergencies. Along with Ben Lopman, PhD, professor of epidemiology, Dean will be the new co-director of the Summer Institute of Statistics and Modeling of Infectious Diseases, supported by the CDC grant. The program has run for 15 years at University of Washington, where Dean previously attended as a graduate student and as a postdoc. 

Informing the public has developed into a bit of a secondary calling for Dean. Throughout the pandemic, Dean has shown a proclivity toward public health communication, and has gained international prominence as a trusted source for public health information, particularly as it relates to translating complex issues. Her X account includes 127,000 followers and has landed her major media appearances during the COVID-19 pandemic, where she provided valuable insight into infectious disease epidemiology. It has also brought her award recognitions, including the 2024 Joint Policy Board of Mathematics Communications Award.  

Dean’s passion for educating the public also translates to the classroom where she teaches Survival Analysis Methods (BIOS 522) and co-teaches Statistical Practice I (BIOS 580), both in the fall. “I enjoy being a part of the Department of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics,” says Dean. “We have such impressive faculty, but we also know how to have fun. I recently won a prize for designing the best mini-golf hole in our department's tournament. (It is helpful to have a kindergartener at home with a lot of great toys!)” 

Prior to coming to Rollins, she was an assistant professor at the University of Florida, where her excellence in teaching, research, and service was recognized through the Provost’s Excellence Award for Assistant Professors, and a statistical consultant for the World Health Organization’s HIV Department. She received her PhD in biostatistics from Harvard University and completed her postdoctoral work at the University of Florida.  

Dean notes she was attracted to Emory for the strength of its infectious disease research and to Rollins for its energy. “That’s the draw of a campus where the faculty, staff, and students alike are energized about improving health and engaging in impactful research,” she says.