Mark A Nichter, PhD, MPH

Regents' Professor and Professor of Anthropology, Public Health, Family Medicine
Phone Number: 
(520) 621-2665

UACC Information

Professional Bio: 

Mark Nichter is Regents Professor and coordinator of the Graduate Medical Anthropology Training Program at the University of Arizona. He received a BA in philosophy and psychology at the George Washington University (1971), a Ph.D. in  social anthropology (University of Edinburgh, 1977),  a M.P.H. in International Health (Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, 1978), and postdoctoral training in clinically applied anthropology (University of Hawaii, 1980-83). He holds joint appointments in the Departments of Family and Community Medicine and the College of Public Health at the University of Arizona as well as the Arizona Cancer Center.  Dr. Nichter has over 30 years of experience conducting health related research in Asia, Africa, and North America and is well known to the global health as well as the tobacco control communities. His most recent research has focused on neglected and emerging diseases, tobacco, and pharmaceutical practice.  Between 2004 – 2014  he was the PI on a NIH Fogarty International Center funded project developing culturally appropriate approaches to tobacco cessation in  medical schools, clinics and community  settings in India and Indonesia ( He currently coordinates social science research for an UBS Optimus Foundation-funded Buruli Ulcer project in three West African countries, and is co-PI on a Global Bridges funded tobacco cessation intervention for nurses in Turkey.

Dr. Nichter is the author of over 130 articles and book chapters in a wide variety of health-related fields and four books including Global Health: Why Cultural Perceptions, Social Representations, and Biopolitics Matter (2008). Dr. Nichter has been a consultant to several international health and development donor agencies, foundations and organizations including the Ford,  UBS Optimus, and  Rockefeller foundations, UNICEF and WHO. He has participated on three Institute of Medicine panels focusing on tobacco use among children and complementary and alternative medicine in the United States, and global zoonotic disease surveillance. Dr. Nichter was a core member of the Robert Woods Johnson-funded Tobacco Etiology Research Network and presently serves on the National Advisory committee of RWJ’s Health and Society Scholars Program.     

Dr. Nichter has been the recipient of several prestigious awards in the field of anthropology including the American Anthropology Association’s Margaret Mead Award and Textor Family Award in Anticipatory Anthropology; the Society for Medical Anthropology’s Career Achievement Award, George Foster Award in Applied  Medical Anthropology, Rudolph Virchow Award, and Graduate Student Mentor Award, and  the Wellcome Institute Medal for Applied Medical Anthropology.

Research Information

Research Program: 
Therapeutic Development
Selected Publications: 
  1. Eaves, Emery R., Mark Nichter, and Cheryl Ritenbaugh. "Ways of Hoping: Navigating the Paradox of Hope and Despair in Chronic Pain." Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry (2015): 1-24.
  2. Muramoto, Myra L., Eva Matthews, Cheryl K. Ritenbaugh, and Mark A. Nichter. "Intervention development for integration of conventional tobacco cessation interventions into routine CAM practice." BMC complementary and alternative medicine 15, no. 1 (2015): 96.
  3. Yamini, T. R., Mark Nichter, Mimi Nichter, P. Sairu, S. Aswati, K. Leelamoni, B. Unnikrishnan et al. "Developing a fully integrated tobacco curriculum in medical colleges in India." BMC medical education 15, no. 1 (2015): 90.
  4. Nichter, Mimi, Sreedevi Padmajam, Mark Nichter, P. Sairu, S. Aswathy, G. K. Mini, V. C. Bindu, A. S. Pradeepkumar, and K. R. Thankappan. "Developing a smoke free homes initiative in Kerala, India." BMC public health 15, no. 1 (2015): 480.
  5. Jennifer Jo Thompson and Mark Nichter. Complementary and Alternative Medicine in the US Health Insurance Reform Debate: An Anthropological Assessment Is Warranted. Medical Anthropology Quarterly, Epub ahead of print, October 14, 2014.
  6. K.R. Thankappan, G.K. Mini, M. Hariharan, G. Vijayakumar, P.S. Sarma, and Mark Nichter. Smoking Cessation among Diabetes Patients in Kerala, India: One Year Follow-up Results from a Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial. Diabetes Care 37: e256–e257, 2014.
  7. Megan Prescott and Mark Nichter. Transnational nurse migration: future directions for anthropological research. Social Science & Medicine 107: 113–123, 2014.
  8. G.K. Mini, Mark Nichter, R.R. Nair, and K.R. Thankappan. Confirmation of self-reported non-smoking status by salivary cotinine among diabetes patients in Kerala, India. Clinical Epidemiology and Global Health. Clinical Epidemiology and Global Health. Available online 11 June 2014. DOI: 10.1016/j.cegh.2014.05.003.
  9. Elyse R. Park, Joanna Streck, Ilana Gareen, Jamie Ostroff, .Kelly Hyland, Hannah Pajolek, Nancy Rigotti, Mark Nichter. A qualitative of lung cancer risk perceptions and smoking beliefs among national lung screening trial participants. Nicotine & Tobacco Research, 16(2): 166–173, 2014.
  10. Myra L. Muramoto, John R. Hall, Mark Nichter, Mimi Nichter, Mikel Aickin, Tim Connolly, Eva Matthews, Jean Campbell, and Harry Lando]. Activating lay health influencers to promote tobacco cessation. American Journal of Health Behavior 38(3): 392–403, 2014.
  11. G.K. Mini, K.R. Thankappan, and Mark Nichter] Does increased knowledge of risk and complication of smoking on diabetes affect quit rate? Findings from a randomized controlled trial in Kerala, India. Tobacco Use Insights 7: 27–30, 2014.
Collaborative Research: 
5R01 CA137375-05                     (Muramoto, PI)                                                                   07/01/09-05/31/16
Tobacco Cessation Training for Acupuncture, Massage, and Chiropractic Practitioners
We hypothesize that: 1) Trained CAM practitioners will have significantly higher rates of screening and delivery of tobacco cessation BIs compared to untrained CAM practitioners; and 2) Patients of trained CAM practitioners will have significantly higher rates of quit attempts and use of evidence-based tobacco cessation aids, than patients of untrained CAM practitioners
Role: Co-Investigator
5R01 TW007944-01                     (Nichter, PI)                                                                       09/13/07-06/30/14
NIH / Fogarty International Center
Building Capacity of Tobacco Cessation in India and Indonesia
The proposed project will leverage lessons learned during QTI and provide an infrastructure for training a next generation of local tobacco researchers to meet the challenges of tobacco cessation within their own countries.
Role: PI

Professional Information

Positions and Honors: 
2008-present    Member of Cancer Prevention and Control Program, University of Arizona Cancer Center
2006-present    Regents Professor    
1994-present    Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Arizona
1988-present    Joint appointment, Department of Family and Community Medicine
1985-1989       Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Arizona
1981-1983       Lecturer, University of Hawaii
Other Experience:
2001                Visiting Professor and certificate of honor, Dr. MGR Medical University, Tamil Nadu, India
1997-1999      Visiting Professor, Sri Chitra Tirunal, Institute of Medical Sciences, Kerala, India.
1997                Visiting Professor, Mahidol University, Thailand
1991                Visiting Professor, University of the Philippines
1983-1984      Fulbright Professor in the anthropology of health. Post Graduate Institute of Medicine, University of Colombo and Health Education Bureau, Ministry of Health, Sri Lanka

Academic Information

Post Doctoral: 
Clinically Applied Anthropology, University of Hawaii School of Medicine, Honolulu, HI
Social Anthropology, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland
Master's Degree: 
MPH, Johns Hopkins University, School of Hygiene and Public Health, Baltimore, MD
Undergraduate School: 
BA, Philosophy & Psychology, George Washington University, Washington, DC