Paul Robert Epstein

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: (Published 29 February 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e855
  1. Ned Stafford, freelance journalist, Hamburg
  1. ns{at}

Publicised the dangers of climate change to health

Paul Epstein was born with the curiosity of a scientist and the compassion of a social activist. With those two traits, plus the example of his progressive paediatrician father, there was never much doubt about what he would do in life. “He studied medicine to help people and to nourish his scientific interests,” said his wife of 44 years, Adrienne “Andy” Epstein. “He loved medical school and relating to patients, and he was particularly interested in serving the underserved.”

Paul Robert Epstein was born on 16 November 1943 in Manhattan, New York City. He was the eldest of two children, and his parents were political progressives, enrolling him in a progressive private school in Greenwich Village. His father encouraged him to study medicine. After earning a bachelors degree in physics and premedical studies at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, he enrolled at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, earning his medical degree in 1969 and becoming an associate in medicine at Harvard in 1972.

In early 1978 Epstein, an associate in medicine at Harvard Medical School who also practised medicine in poor communities, left his comfortable life in Boston for Mozambique. The newly independent nation, recovering from a colonial war with Portugal, had an acute …

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