Trained as a molecular biologist, Jay Winsten is an Associate Dean and the Frank Stanton Director of the Center for Health Communication at the Harvard School of Public Health. Winsten also serves as Senior Communications Advisor to the UN Secretary General's Special Envoy for Malaria.
Winsten's best-known initiative, the Harvard Alcohol Project, conducted in collaboration with major Hollywood studios and leading television networks, demonstrated how a new social concept--the designated driver--could be rapidly introduced into American culture through mass communication, importing the concept from Scandinavia. By 1991, three years into the campaign, 54% of frequent drinkers had been driven home by designated drivers (Roper Poll), contributing to a sharp decline in alcohol-related traffic fatalities.
The Center currently is conducting large-scale media initiatives to recruit volunteer mentors for at-risk youth and encourage U. S. journalists to devote greater attention to global health issues.
Winsten served as co-editor, with Nobel laureate James Watson and former Harvard School of Public Health Dean Howard Hiatt, of a three-volume Origins of Human Cancer. He also conducted what the Columbia Journalism Review described as a "landmark study" examining how news coverage of science and health is shaped by economic, organizational, and professional incentives in journalism and science.