Kliniken &… Institute Heidelberger Institut… Staff Chen, Simiao

Dr. Simiao Chen

Associate Professor, Head of Research Unit, Heidelberg Institute of Global Health at Heidelberg University

Visiting Professor, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences & Peking Union Medical College

Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellow

Commissioner, Lancet
COVID-19 commission

Faculty, the German Academic Scholarship Foundation (Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes)


Dr. Simiao Chen is an Associate Professor and also the Head of Research Unit for Population Medicine, Economics and Policy at Heidelberg Institute of Global Health at Heidelberg University in Germany, a Visiting Professor at Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences & Peking Union Medical College in China and an Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellow. Her primary areas of research include population medicine, health policy and health systems, health economics, as well as health psychology and behavioral science, mainly focusing on: (i) developing, analyzing, testing, and evaluating population medicine and public health interventions and policies that address large healthcare needs, such as COVID-19, hypertension, COPD, and mental health condition; (ii) the interrelations between health status, society and economic growth; and (iii) health system reforms. Her research has been funded by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, German Research Foundation (DFG), Horizon Europe from European Commission, National Natural Science Foundation of China, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, China Medical Board, National Institutes of Health (NIH), and Pan American Health Organization. She has published over 100 articles in renowned journals such as the Lancet, JAMA, BMJ, Lancet Global Health, Lancet Planetary Health, JAMA Oncology, Science Translational Medicine, Health Affairs, and Social Science and Medicine. She has been consecutively listed among the world’s top 2% most influential scientists (identified by Stanford University/Elsevier) for the years 2022 and 2023, and her work has been awarded as Significant Progress of Medical Sciences in China in the year 2020. Dr. Chen is a faculty of the German Academic Scholarship Foundation, a member of the German Alliance for Global Health Research, a commissioner of the Professional Committee on Prevention and Control of Respiratory Diseases at Chinese Preventive Medicine Association, and a Youth Corresponding Expert of Engineering. She was also a commissioner of the Lancet COVID-19 commission, a consultant for the World Bank, Pan American Health Organization, the Chinese Academy of Engineering, and Population Council in Pakistan. She received her bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from Tsinghua University, master’s degree in management science from Columbia University, and doctorate in global health and population from Harvard University.



Global Health and Population (Health Economics)

Advisor: David E. Bloom
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, USA


Management Science and Engineering
Columbia University, USA

Industrial Engineering
Tsinghua University, China



Publications (selection)

25.       Chen S# , Cao Z, Wang Z, Wang C (2023). The challenging road to universal health coverage. Lancet Global Health. 11(10): e1490-e1491.

24.       Chen S#, Kuhn M, Prettner K, Yu F, Yang T, Bärnighausen T, Bloom DE, Wang C (2023). The global economic burden of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease for 204 countries and territories in 2020–2050: a health-augmented macroeconomic modeling study. Lancet Global Health. 11(8): e1183-e1193.

23.       Cao Z and Chen S# (2023). Innovative methods of determining health expenditure efficiency are urgently needed. Lancet Global Health. 11(6):e797-e798.

22.       Chen S#, Cao Z, Prettner K, Kuhn M, Yang J, Jiao L, Wang Z, Li W, Geldsetzer P, Bärnighausen T, Bloom DE, Wang C (2023). Estimates and Projections of the Global Economic Cost of 29 Cancers in 204 Countries and Territories From 2020 to 2050. JAMA Oncology. Published online February 23, 2023.

Editorial: The Global Economic Cost of Cancer—Estimating It Is Just the First Step! (2023). JAMA Oncology; Published online February 23, 2023.

Nature: Cancer will cost the world $25 trillion over next 30 years. March 7, 2023

Science: Cancer’s price tag: $25 trillion. March 2, 2023

Forbes: Cancer Will Cost U.S. $5.3 Trillion By 2050, Researchers Estimate. Feb 23, 2023

Financial Times: The unexplained rise of cancer among millennials. June 19, 2023

21.       Liu W, He M, Dambach P, Schwertz R, Chen S#, Yu F, Marx M (2022). Trends of overweight and obesity among preschool children from 2013 to 2018: A cross-sectional study in Rhine-Neckar County and the City of Heidelberg, Germany. BMC Public Health. 22, 941 (2022).

20.       Chen S#, Geldsetzer P, Chen Q, Moshabela M, Jiao L, Ogbuoji O, Sie A, Atun R, Bärnighausen T (2022). Health insurance coverage in 56 low- and middle-income countries is insufficient to achieve universal health coverage. Health Affairs. 2022; 41(8): 1142-52.

Health Affairs Today: Benefits Of Expanding Health Insurance Coverage (https://healthaffairs.activehosted.com/index.php?action=social&chash=baed9f51d412c2514ee46a0942138ad6.6164&s=bad97c655476f96a390a72c05a742011) Aug 24, 2022

19.       Liu W, Yu F, Geldsetzer P, Yang J, Wang Z, Golden T, Jiao L, Chen Q, Liu H, Wu P, Wang C, Bärnighausen T, Chen S# (2022). The prevalence of depression in China during the early stage of the COVID-19 pandemic: A cross-sectional study in an online survey sample. BMJ Open. 12(3): e056667.

18.       Zhou Y, Chen S*, Wang G, Chen S, Zhang Y, Chen J, Tu Z, Liu G, Wu S, Pan A (2022). Effectiveness of a workplace-based, multicomponent hypertension management program in “real-world” practice: a propensity-matched analysis. Hypertension.79(1): 230-240.

            *Co-first author

17.       Chen S#, Li L, Yang J, Jiao L, Golden T, Wang Z, Liu H, Wu P, Bärnighausen T, Geldsetzer P, Wang C (2021). The impact of long-term care insurance in China on beneficiaries and caregivers: A systematic review. Journal of Global Health Economics and Policy. 1(2021):e2021014.

16.     Chen S, Zhuang H, Bärnighausen T (2021). The effects of a wife’s retirement on her husband’s mental health among older adults in China. Applied Economics Letters. Published online: 09 Sep 2021.

15.     Chen S, Prettner K, Kuhn M, Bloom D. E., Wang C (2021). Macro-level efficiency of health expenditure: estimates for 15 major economies. Social Science and Medicine. 287(October 2021): 114270.

14.       Chen S, Prettner K, Kuhn M, Geldsetzer P, Wang C, Baernighausen T, Bloom D. E. (2021). Climate and the spread of COVID-19. Scientific Reports. 11(1): 9042.

CNN News: Updated Covid-19 boosters are expected in September. Will it be too late? Aug 4, 2022

Jerusalem Post: Coronavirus affected by warm temperatures, may follow a seasonal path - study. May 1, 2021

ORF: Fallzahlen hängen auch vom Klima ab. May 11, 2021

FAZ: Haben die Corona-Modelle versagt? May 14, 2021

The Guardian: Countries closer to equator have up to 33 per cent less COVID-19 infections. May 18, 2021

13.       Chen S#, Chen Q, Yang J, Lin L, Li L, Jiao L, Geldsetzer P, Wang C, Wilder-Smith A, Bärnighausen T (2021). Curbing the COVID-19 pandemic with facility-based isolation of mild cases: a mathematical modeling study. Journal of Travel Medicine. 28(2): taaa226.

Feature: Covid-19: Why test and trace will fail without support for self-isolation (2021). BMJ 2021;372:n327

12.       Chen S, Prettner K, Cao B, Geldsetzer P, Kuhn M, Bloom D E, Baernighausen T, Wang C (2020). Revisiting the association between temperature and COVID-19 transmissibility across 117 countries. ERJ Open Research 2020; 6(4).

11.       Chen S, Chen Q, Yang W, Xue L, Liu Y, Yang J, Wang C, Bärnighausen T (2020). Buying time for an effective epidemic response: impact of the public holiday policy on COVID-19 epidemic spread in China. Engineering. 6(10): 1108-1114.

10.       Chen S, Zhang Z, Yang J, Wang J, Zhai X, Bärnighausen T, Wang C (2020). Fangcang shelter hospitals: a novel concept to boost the response to public health emergencies. Lancet. 395(10232): 1305-1314.

            Award: Selected as 1 out of the 40 works of the Significant Progress of Medical Sciences in 2020 that is launched by the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences

Editorial: Sustaining containment of COVID-19 in China (2020). Lancet; 395(10232): 1230.

Book: Richard Horton (2020). The COVID-19 catastrophe: What's gone wrong and how to stop it happening again.

Wikipedia: Fangcang hospital. URL: https://en.wikipedia.org/?curid=63519761

Wikipedia: COVID-19 pandemic. URL: https://en.wikipedia.org/?curid=62750956

Editorial: COVID-19 and China: lessons and the way forward (2020). Lancet; 396(10246): 213.

WHO guideline: World Health Organization. Repurposing facilities for isolation and management of mild COVID-19 cases: Manila: WHO Regional Office for the Western Pacific, June 1 2020.

The BMJ Opinion: Alex Nowbar’s journal reviews—10 April 2020

Editorial: Covid-19: breaking the chain of household transmission (2020). BMJ 2020;370:m3181

Bloomberg News: Forced Isolation May Be the Only Way to Stop Resurgence of Virus. Aug 13, 2020

The Guardian: Six months into Covid, the UK's quarantine programme is still a mess. Aug 7, 2020

CCTV News: 《柳叶刀》总编:方舱医院是中国对抗疫情成功的一个很重要因素. May 2, 2020. (http://m.news.cctv.com/2020/05/02/ARTIpC20vnvcsIeUTxMLp1tU200502.shtml)

The New York Times: ‘Thanking God for My Breath’: Dispatch From New York’s Frontline. April 7, 2020

9.         Chen S, Yang J, Yang W, Wang C, Bärnighausen T (2020). COVID-19 control in China during mass population movements at New Year. Lancet. 2020 Mar 7;395(10226):764-766.

Wikipedia: COVID-19-Pandemie in der Volksrepublik China. URL: https://de.wikipedia.org/?curid=11195690

8.         Sudharsanan N, Chen S*, Garber M, Bärnighausen T, Geldsetzer P (2020). The effect of home-based hypertension screening on blood pressure change over time in South Africa. Health Affairs. 2020;39(1): 124-132.

            *Co-first author

7.         Chen S#, Kuhn M, Prettner K (2020). Tobacco control policies: the authors reply. Health Affairs. 2020;39(2).

6.         Chen, S#, Geldsetzer, P., Bärnighausen, T. (2020). The causal effect of retirement on stress in older adults in China: A regression discontinuity study. SSM-population health10, 100462.

5.         Chen S#, Kuhn M, Prettner K, Bloom DE (2019). Noncommunicable diseases attributable to tobacco use in China: Macroeconomic burden and tobacco control policies. Health Affairs. 2019;38(11):1832-1839.

Health Affairs Blog: Health Affairs In 2019: Editor’s Picks Health Affairs Blog, January 27, 2020. DOI: 10.1377/hblog20200126.263406. Selected as top ten articles in 2019.

Editorial: Weil AR. Household costs, food, and more. 2019.

4.         Chen S#, Kuhn M, Prettner K, Bloom DE (2019). The global macroeconomic burden of road injuries: Estimates and projections for 166 countries. Lancet Planetary Health. 2019;3(9):e390-e8.

World Bank guideline: World Bank. Guidelines for Conducting Road Safety Data Reviews, January 18th 2022.

Wikipedia: Misconsumption. URL: https://en.wikipedia.org/?curid=68160958

ORF Ö1: So teuer kommen Verkehrsunfälle. Oct 16, 2019.

ORF Science webpages: Verkehrsunfälle kosten Österreich jährlich mehr als 350 Mio. Dollar. Oct 16, 2019.

Handelsblatt: Studie: Unfälle im Straßenverkehr kosten Deutschland viele Milliarden. Oct 16, 2019.

Focus: Unfälle im Straßenverkehr kosten Deutschland viele Milliarden. Oct 16, 2019.

Krone: Unfälle kosten 320 Millionen €. Oct 17, 2019.

Wiener Zeitung: Was Verkehrsunfälle kosten. Oct 17, 2019.

3.         Chen S#, Sudharsanan N, Huang F, Liu Y, Geldsetzer P, Bärnighausen T (2019). Impact of community-based screening for hypertension on blood pressure after two years: regression discontinuity analysis in a national cohort of older adults in China. BMJ 2019;366:l4064.

Editorial: Global blood pressure screening: a wakeup call (2020). Hypertension; 2020(76):318-320

2.         Chen S#, Bloom DE (2019). The macroeconomic burden of noncommunicable diseases associated with air pollution in China. PLoS One; 14(4): e0215663.

1.         Chen S#, Kuhn M, Prettner K, Bloom DE (2018). The macroeconomic burden of noncommunicable diseases in the United States: estimates and projections. PLoS One; 13(11): e0206702.

            Included in PLOS collection: Economic Cases for NCD Prevention and Control: A Global Perspective (https://collections.plos.org/ncds-economics)

Launched in the international conference “Prince Mahidol Award Conference”: PMAC themes 2019: “The Political Economy of NCDs: A Whole of Society Approach” (http://pmac2019.com/site/special_event)