Explore This Lab


We work to:

  • Identify mechanisms underlying health inequities, including social determinants of health and public policies
  • Develop and evaluate community-engaged interventions to reduce health disparities
  • Nurture cross-disciplinary collaborations among researchers, clinicians, and community stakeholders to produce high-impact, action-oriented, policy-relevant research

Health disparities adversely affect groups of people who have systematically experienced greater obstacles to health, based on their racial or ethnic group, socioeconomic status, immigration status, sexual orientation, geographic location, or other characteristics historically linked to racism or exclusion. A primary focus of this lab is the immigrant and refugee communities, but our work addresses the needs of diverse communities who do not benefit from health care advances equally.


  • 2021 Academy of Women Achievers Sylvia Ferrell-Jones Award from YW Boston
    Dr. Saadi was one of five women inducted into the YW Boston Academy of Women Achievers, honoring some of Boston’s “unstoppable women” who demonstrate YW Boston’s mission of eliminating racism and empowering women. The Sylvia-Ferrell Jones Award is named in honor of YW Boston’s former President and CEO, recognizing an up-and-coming young professional woman of color who is a leader in her field. Read more here.
  • 2021 National Minority Quality Forum “40 Under 40 Leader in Minority Health”
    Dr. Saadi was selected as one of 40 minority health leaders under the age of 40 by the National Minority Quality Forum. The National Minority Quality Forum annually recognizes leaders representing the next generation of thought leaders in reducing health disparities. Read more here.
  • The Intersection of Neurology and Police Violence
    Dr. Saadi was the senior author on a JAMA Neurology Viewpoint on Police Use of Neck Restraints, which received wide media coverage. Read Dr. Saadi’s interview with WGBH All Things Considered. This Viewpoint paved the path to an American Academy of Neurology position statement against the use of neck restraints by law enforcement. Dr. Saadi and colleagues have also written a Washington Post Op-Ed about the bogus diagnosis of “Excited Delirium” to justify deaths occurring in police custody. In 2022, Dr. Saadi was a co-author on a Physicians for Human Rights report on “Excited Delirium” and Deaths in Policy Custody that found that “excited delirium” is not a valid, independent medical or psychiatric diagnosis. She was a lead author on a Lancet commentary on the same topic corresponding with the launch of the report, which received widespread media coverage including CNN, NBC, MedPage Today, among others.

  • 2020 STAT Wunderkind
    Dr. Saadi was named a 2020 "STAT Wunderkind." The honor recognizes doctors and researchers “on the cusp of launching their careers” who are conducting innovative research and blazing new trails. Read more here.
  • The Health Consequences of Immigration Detention
    Substandard medical care and poor conditions in immigration prisons can be a catalyst for worsening health. Dr. Saadi has served as a medical expert assessing immigration prison conditions of confinement and published about these conditions both in academic journals and the lay press, such as this Op-Ed in the Los Angeles Times. She has also spoken with various news agencies regarding immigration prison conditions and related health consequences, including The Atlantic and The Huffington Post.
  • Immigrant-friendly Health Systems
    Dr. Saadi has advanced the concept of “immigration-informed” care, which includes institutional policies and actions aimed at mitigating immigration-related concerns among patients and healthcare staff. Having first coined “Sanctuary Hospitals,” Dr. Saadi has detailed the implementation of “Immigrant friendly” institutional policies in academic publications (read more here and here) as well as a publicly-available toolkit and videos available at www.DoctorsForImmigrants.com.


See complete list on PubMed

Meet the Team

Altaf Saadi, MD MSc
Principal Investigator
Assistant Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School
Margarita Velasco
Research Coordinator

2022 Interns

  • Julia Asfour, Tufts University
  • Anjali Chandra, Emory University School of Medicine
  • Deena Haque, Brown University
  • Nusrath Jahan, Tufts University
  • Christie Tzelios, Harvard Medical School


Funding Partners

We would like to thank our funding partners for helping to make our research possible:

  • American Academy of Neurology
  • California Initiative for Health Equity and Action
  • National Institute of Health
  • National Science Foundation
  • Rappaport Foundation
  • Russel Sage Foundation