Observations BMJ Confidential

Michael Marmot: Evidence based optimist

BMJ 2015; 351 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.h4577 (Published 09 September 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h4577

Biography

Michael Marmot, 70, is the doyen of health inequalities, both in research and policy. He led a groundbreaking study of Whitehall civil servants that showed, contrary to traditional thinking, that the lower their status, the worse their health—the “social gradient.” His conviction that evidence should form the basis of policy and that people can make a difference led to his chairing two WHO commissions and the English review on social determinants of health. His new book, The Health Gap: the Challenge of an Unequal World, sets this out. He is director of the Institute of Health Equity at University College London (UCL) and will be president of the World Medical Association for 2015-16.

What was your earliest ambition?

To make a difference. But, being rather hopeless at art and music and certainly no Dickens, using knowledge and an interest in science seemed the best way. Hence, medicine.

Who has been your biggest inspiration?

Peter Harvey, a chest physician in Sydney, who listened to me going on about social conditions affecting patients and said, “I have just the thing for you—epidemiology.” Also, Len …

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