Koichiro Shiba, PhD, MPH
Assistant Professor
Boston University School of Public Health

PhD, Harvard School of Public Health
MPH, University of Tokyo
BA, University of Tokyo

My overarching research goal is using rigorous causal inference thinking and methods to improve evidence on social determinants of health and health disparities. Rather than merely applying complex methods, my motto is to harness their full potential by identifying and applying the methods to the unique challenges in social epidemiologic studies where they truly shine.

I lead a multitude of projects spanning a broad spectrum of methodological issues, including but not limited to: analyzing time-varying treatments to derive different, policy-relevant insights, and identifying when conventional single-point exposure analysis may be misleading; the use of machine learning methods for robust effect estimation and assessing high-dimensional heterogeneous exposure effects, capturing the intersectionality; the consideration of causal estimands and selection bias in trauma studies with sample attrition; novel approaches to characterize and operationalize neighborhood characteristics; and a novel causal inference method to simulate the impacts of realistic hypothetical interventions on health disparities.

In addition to these methodological focuses, I have worked on several key substantive areas that address urgent public health concerns. First, I study the effects of stressful experiences and traumatic events (such as climate change, disasters, child adversity, pandemics, and global financial crises) on population health, with a particular focus on older adult populations. Second, I investigate the roles of social relationships, social engagement (e.g., volunteering), and related exposures such as loneliness and social isolation) in promoting the health of older adults and fostering resilience. I have also explored how internet-based social interactions can influence population health. Third, I study the impacts of positive psychological factors (for instance, purpose in life, Ikigai) on health. My research further delves into inequalities in and determinants of multidimensional well-being (i.e., human flourishing), which extends beyond traditional physical and mental health outcomes and include other key domains of human well-being such as purpose in life and social well-being. In essence, my objective for this line of research is to study health in its fullest sense, defined by the World Health Organization as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility

Dr. Shiba's research directly concerns addressing inequalities. As a social epidemiologist, Dr. Shiba studies social determinants of health (SDH). Although examining the population average impact of SDH as an upstream determinant of health is valuable on its own for disease prevention at the population level and promoting public health, his SDH research has also considered a) the distributions of the SDHs within and across populations and b) how the effects of the SDHs can be heterogeneous. Dr. Shiba also leveraged his expertise in measuring health disparity and applied it to the science of well-being, where the focus of research has been primarily on assessing population averages.

Dr. Shiba values diversity and inclusion in research as keys to general academic excellence because investigators’ identities (e.g., nationality, gender, race/ethnicity) and educational backgrounds (e.g., clinicians, social scientists, statistician) influence many aspects of research such as research questions and hypotheses, methodology, and interpretation of data.

Publications listed below are automatically derived from MEDLINE/PubMed and other sources, which might result in incorrect or missing publications. Faculty can login to make corrections and additions.

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  1. Kim ES, Wilkinson R, Okuzono SS, Chen Y, Shiba K, Cowden RG, VanderWeele TJ. Positive affect during adolescence and health and well-being in adulthood: An outcome-wide longitudinal approach. PLoS Med. 2024 Apr; 21(4):e1004365. PMID: 38564500; PMCID: PMC10986977; DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1004365;
  2. Hong JH, Nakamura JS, Sahakari SS, Chopik WJ, Shiba K, VanderWeele TJ, Kim ES. The silent epidemic of loneliness: identifying the antecedents of loneliness using a lagged exposure-wide approach. Psychol Med. 2024 Mar 18; 1-14. PMID: 38497115
  3. Shiba K, Inoue K. Harnessing Causal Forests for Epidemiologic Research: Key Consideration. Am J Epidemiol. 2024 Feb 06. PMID: 38319713
  4. Yazawa A, Hikichi H, Shiba K, Okuzono SS, Kondo K, Sasaki S, Kawachi I. Association of disaster-related damage with inflammatory diet among older survivors of the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. Br J Nutr. 2024 Jan 23; 1-9. PMID: 38258409
  5. Okuzono SS, Slopen N, Shiba K, Yazawa A, Kondo K, Kawachi I. Do Adverse Childhood Experiences Modify the Association Between Disaster-Related Trauma and Cognitive Disability? Am J Epidemiol. 2024 Jan 08; 193(1):36-46. PMID: 37442811; PMCID: PMC10773476; DOI: 10.1093/aje/kwad158;
  6. Toshiaki Komura, Richard G. Cowden, Ruijia Chen, Ryan M. Andrews, Koichiro Shiba. Estimating the heterogeneous effect of life satisfaction on cognitive functioning among older adults: Evidence of US and UK national surveys. SSM-Mental Health. 2023; 4. View Publication
  7. Tim Lomas, Pablo Diego-Rosell, Koichiro Shiba, Priscilla Standridge, Matthew T. Lee, Alden Yuanhong La. The world prefers a calm life, but not everyone gets to have one: global trends in valuing and experiencing calmness in the Gallup World Poll. The Journal of Positive Psychology. 2023; 1-4. View Publication
  8. Nakamura JS, Shiba K, Jensen SM, VanderWeele TJ, Kim ES. Who Benefits From Helping? Moderators of the Association Between Informal Helping and Mortality. Ann Behav Med. 2023 Nov 16; 57(12):1058-1068. PMID: 37540830
  9. Cowden RG, Chen ZJ, Fancourt D, Shiba K. Place, Spirituality, and Well-Being: A Global and Multidisciplinary Approach. Can prayer during COVID-19 home confinement support psychological health after lockdowns end? A longitudinal study of UK adults. Springer International Publishing. New York, USA. 2023; 143-162. View Publication
  10. Hikichi H, Shiba K, Aida J, Kondo K, Kawachi I. Association between sense of coherence and health and well-being among older survivors of a natural disaster: a prospective outcome-wide study. Sci Rep. 2023 Sep 29; 13(1):16385. PMID: 37773258; PMCID: PMC10542327; DOI: 10.1038/s41598-023-43672-z;
Showing 10 of 58 results. Show More

This graph shows the total number of publications by year, by first, middle/unknown, or last author.

Bar chart showing 58 publications over 10 distinct years, with a maximum of 17 publications in 2022


2019 Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: Teaching Assistant Award
2015 Japan Epidemiological Association: Best Presentation
2015 University of Tokyo: Graduate Study Scholarship
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715 Albany St
Boston MA 02118
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