Dr. Linda Desens


Principal Health Communication Scientist, MITRE Labs Health Innovation Center

Dr. Linda Desens is a Principal Health Communication Scientist with the MITRE Labs Health Innovation Center. During her time at MITRE, she has been a thought leader and catalyst in the growth of the health communication capability. Dr. Desens’ research includes work on mis/disinformation related to the COVID-19 vaccines. As a result of this research, she co-developed the HIPETM framework that that has been applied to vaccine adoption in local communities during the COVID-19 pandemic, domestic violence extremism, and Mpox. With the HIPETM framework as a foundation, Dr. Desens also co-developed the COVID-19 Health Communication Playbook, which aims to combat COVID-19 vaccine mis/disinformation in disproportionately affected populations. As an extension of her mis/disinformation research, Dr. Desens co-led the development of MITRE’s HIPE Lab and an algorithm for the detection of persuasion drivers used in online mis/disinformation.

Dr. Desens has served in other notable projects, such as Sara Alert, a secure monitoring and reporting tool for public health that was launched at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. She has also served as the Co-chair for the MITRE Health Communication Community of Practice. In addition to her research on mis/disinformation, she is the principal investigator for suicide prevention research related to passive sensing wearables and mental wellness with U.S. special operations forces where she led the development of MITRE’s Systems Integrated High-tech/High-Touch Framework and the Technology Assisted Stress Control (TASCTM) application. Prior to MITRE, Dr. Desens held policy and leadership positions in health promotion and health communication within the government, corporate and health systems.

Dr. Desens holds a Ph.D. in Health Communication from George Mason University; a Master of Science degree in Exercise, Fitness and Health Promotion from George Mason University; a Master of Arts degree in Health Promotion Counseling from Trinity University; and a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing from Catholic University.