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Michael Rich, MD, MPH
Mediatrician and Director of CMCH

Dr. Michael Rich, Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and Associate Professor of Society, Human Development, and Health at Harvard School of Public Health, came to medicine after a twelve-year career as a filmmaker (including serving as assistant director to Akira Kurosawa on Kagemusha).

His current areas of health research and clinical work bring together his experience and expertise in medicine and media, making him the world’s first “Mediatrician.” In this role, he uses scientific evidence about the powerful positive and negative effects of media to advise children and those who care for them on how to use media in ways that optimize their development.

Graduating from Pomona College where he double majored in English and Film in 1977, he attended Harvard Medical School (MD, 1991) and Harvard School of Public Health (MPH, 1997) Bringing his media expertise to bear on the issue of child health, Dr. Rich developed and directs Video Intervention/Prevention Assessment (VIA), a research methodology in which patients who share a medical diagnosis or health risk factor make video diaries of their lives, visual illness narratives that are studied for factors in their day-to-day activities and environments that contribute to their condition. Based on studies using VIA to research how kids really experience asthma and obesity, Dr. Rich has authored numerous papers, including the first video-illustrated research paper ever published by Pediatrics.

Dr. Rich has been instrumental in supporting the development and expansion of the CMCH Database of Research, the first searchable online database of citations on media and child health, freely available online. 

Dr. Rich received the New Investigator Award from the Society for Adolescent Medicine for his development of VIA and the research resulting from it. Dr. Rich received five years of funding from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) to further refine the VIA method in a longitudinal study of young people with disabling conditions as they transition to the adult health care system. In addition, Dr. Rich wrote and co-produced Relieve the Squeeze, a short film starring Danny DeVito and Nia Long that used humor and drama to educate and empower children and adolescents to take control of asthma.

Dr. Rich has established a reputation for investigating the negative health effects of media exposure, having authored research papers examining the portrayals of interpersonal violence and substance use in music videos, and chapters in key texts. He has been elected a member of the prestigious Society for Pediatric Research, a Fellow of the Society for Adolescent Medicine, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). He has authored practice policy for the AAP membership on media issues, including policy statements on media violence and a well-publicized 1999 AAP policy statement on media education as a public health intervention. Dr. Rich has served on the Editorial Board of Pediatrics, and as a member of the AAP media leadership group, the Committee on Public Education. Dr. Rich has authored and presented testimony to the United States Congress, Illinois and North Carolina State Legislatures, and the Chicago City Council, and was a contributing author of the Children and Media Research Advancement Act (CAMRA) bill, sponsored by Senators Hillary Clinton, Sam Brownback, and Joe Lieberman.

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