Faculty Directory


Vassar College, AB 2000
Brown University, MPH 2004
Temple University, JD 2008


Professor Beletsky holds an interdisciplinary appointment with the School of Law and Bouvé College of Health Sciences. His expertise is on the public health impact of laws and their enforcement, with special focus on substance use and addiction, infectious disease, occupational safety of first responders, and policing as a structural determinant of health. Professor Beletsky is a frequent media commentator on harm reduction approaches to address North America’s overdose crisis, as well as other issues at the intersection of public health and public safety. Those intersections also define the project portfolio of The Action Lab at the Center for Health Policy and Law, which he founded and directs at the School of Law.

As one of a small group of legal academics consistently funded by the National Institutes of Health, Professor Beletsky has conducted numerous empirical studies in domestic and international settings to examine the role of policing and legal factors in shaping health outcomes. He served as the principal investigator (MPI, with Steffanie Strathdee) of the first-ever research project funded by NIH/NIDA to evaluate how a law enforcement training can improve public health. Using both quantitative and qualitative methods, Professor Beletsky’s current work continues to explore drug policies’ health effects and pathways by which racial disparities in the criminal legal system result in health disparities.

In line with Northeastern’s social impact ethos, Professor Beletsky actively works to translate research to policy, legal and the broader public audiences. He applies his skills and expertise in service to governmental agencies and non-governmental organizations. Most recently, this has included The Global Fund, The Pew Charitable Trusts and two Massachusetts state commissions. His research and service have received broad recognition at international, national and local levels, including recent awards from the International AIDS Society, the Association of American Law Schools and the First Church of Cambridge.

Prior to joining the Northeastern community, Professor Beletsky was a member of the faculty of the Division of Infectious Disease and Global Public Health at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, where he retains an adjunct appointment. He received his undergraduate training in geography from Vassar College and Oxford University, a master’s in public health from Brown University, his law degree from Temple University School of Law and his post-doctoral training at the Yale University Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS. He is a member of the New York State Bar and a dad to two bandits.

Fields of Expertise

  • Comparative Law
  • Criminal Justice Policy and Practice
  • Drug Law and Policy
  • Empirical Methods
  • Global Health
  • Health Disparities
  • Human Rights
  • Infectious Disease Prevention and Response
  • Occupational Safety and Health
  • Public Health Law and Policy

Selected Works

Leo Beletsky

Professor of Law and Health Sciences and Faculty Director, The Action Lab at the Center for Health Policy and Law


40 Cargill Hall
416 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115
@LeoBeletsky Curriculum Vitae SSRN Author Page