Obituaries

Anthony John (Tony) McMichael

BMJ 2014; 349 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.g6673 (Published 05 November 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g6673
  1. Shilu Tong

Two decades ago, many epidemiologists viewed little relevance of epidemiological research to work on the health consequences of climate change. In 1993 McMichael published his first influential book, Planetary Overload, in which he explored the risks to human health posed by global environmental change including ozone depletion, climate change, urbanisation, loss of biodiversity, and land degradation. Today, remains an important piece of work on the topic and is often recommended reading for researchers, decision makers, practitioners, and university students who are interested in environment and health. It also positioned McMichael as a pioneer and world leader in the area. McMichael was a farsighted scientist and visionary epidemiologist, his remarkable work is still far from complete, and his legacy to make the world a better place for humans and other species will inspire many generations to come.

McMichael was born on 3 October 1942, the son of an Adelaide architect. He had an idyllic childhood and excelled academically during early school years. McMichael graduated in medicine from the University of Adelaide in 1967, but instead getting into an internship or general practice he was elected as president (full time) of the National Union of Australian University Students. In 1969, rather than pursuing his career in politics, he became a doctoral student of Basil Hetzel, the foundation chair of the newly created department of social and preventive medicine at Monash University in Melbourne. He became interested in epidemiology because of two service trips: a summer volunteering expedition at a leprosy colony in New Delhi, India, which he revisited almost 50 years later; and another, similar, visit to Papua New Guinea, where he first met Judith Healy, a social sciences student …

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