Tony McMichaelBMJ 2014; 349 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.g6397 (Published 03 November 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g6397
- Amy Coopes, Sydney, Australia
A public health visionary whose pioneering work on climate change was recognised with the Nobel peace prize, Tony McMichael combined academic rigour with political skill to cement his place as one of modern epidemiology’s great minds.
McMichael, the son of an architect and a homemaker, graduated from the University of Adelaide’s medical school in 1967, at a time of intense global concern about population growth. A summer in Delhi’s leper colonies and a trip to build a hospital in Papua New Guinea’s Tari highlands had been formative experiences for the sheltered young medical student, opening his eyes to the injustices and health impacts of poverty. “I was impressed by his generous nature, his quiet leadership and his intellectual curiosity,” his wife, Judith Healy, said of the man she first met in Tari.
Instead of following classmates into clinical practice—although he spent a brief period as a general practitioner—McMichael was drawn into politics as president of Australia’s National Union of Students (NUS). During this time he forged lifelong connections that would …