Intended for healthcare professionals

Observations BMJ Confidential

Martin McKee: “Never bloody here”

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: (Published 28 January 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h421


Martin McKee is an inescapable presence to anybody with even a fleeting interest in public health. Prodigiously productive, he focuses his research on people affected by rapid political and economic change. His commentaries are infused with crusading zeal and a sense of social justice that brook no opposition. He grew up in Belfast, the son of GPs, and migrated in 1986 to the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), where he is now professor of European public health. If there’s an advisory or editorial board that he’s not a member of, somebody’s slipped up.

What was your earliest ambition?

From a very early age I was fascinated by foreign countries and was encouraged by my mother. I journeyed through Greece and the Balkans on Interrail when I was 15, and I haven’t stopped travelling since.

Who has been your biggest inspiration?

Rudolf Virchow, an eminent pathologist. His investigation into the typhus outbreak in Silesia is a classic, identifying the power of the aristocracy as the fundamental cause. His modern equivalent is Salim Yusuf at McMaster University [in Ontario, Canada], an outstanding clinician who understands the need to tackle the fundamental determinants …

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