Harrison C Spencer

BMJ 2016; 354 doi: (Published 03 September 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;354:i4765
  1. Martin McKee
  1. London
  1. Martin.McKee{at}

Global leader in public health training and research

The challenges facing public health today are incredibly complex. Climate change; a seemingly never ending succession of newly emerging or re-emerging diseases, including antimicrobial resistance; conflict; mass migration; and political, economic, and social change all require innovative thinking by public health workers, researchers, policy makers, and practitioners. If they are to make a difference they must deploy a wide range of skills, both technical and political. Harrison Spencer, who has died in Washington aged 71, made an enormous contribution over almost 50 years to preparing the public health workforce for these challenges.

In 1996 he became the first person from outside the UK to be appointed dean of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM). In his four years there he led a substantial expansion of the school’s activities in both research and teaching.

Recognising the ways in which the changing global landscape was impacting on funding for health research, he worked assiduously to strengthen the school’s presence in North America. This paved the way for a $40 million award in 2000—the first of its kind from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation—for …

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