Remembering Paul Farmer, MD, PhD

Paul Farmer, MD, PhD

The Brigham community mourns the tragic loss of Paul Farmer, MD, PhD, chief of the Division of Global Health Equity at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Paul passed away unexpectedly in his sleep in Rwanda on February 21. He was 62 years old.

Paul, who was also the co-founder and chief strategist of Partners In Health, and the Kolokotrones University Professor and chair of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School, dedicated his life’s work to preventing and treating diseases that disproportionately afflict the poor.

Paul joined the Brigham as a resident in 1991, completed a fellowship in the Combined Longwood Infectious Disease Program in 1996, and was a dedicated and influential member of the Brigham community, becoming chief of the Division of Global Health Equity in 2009. His work in pioneering novel, community-based treatment strategies to deliver high-quality care in resource-poor settings has been an extreme point of pride for the entire Brigham community.

Paul was a true humanitarian, a brilliant scholar, compassionate clinician, dedicated educator, and talented writer.

An educational leader, Paul played a critical and leading role in establishing the nation’s first residency program in internal medicine and global health equity here at the Brigham. The Howard Hiatt Residency in Global Health Equity and Internal Medicine, a four-year program that provides intensive training in internal medicine and health disparities and matches residents with a mentor who has clinical and research experience in the field of global health, has inspired numerous other programs at teaching hospitals across the country.

Paul was a prolific writer, authoring multiple books and publishing extensively about health, human rights, and social inequality. One of his most recently published pieces in The Boston Globe highlighted the connection between social disparities and health and spoke out in support of Brigham faculty and all those who are working to address disparities in care.

As we grieve this loss, our hearts go out to his wife, Didi, their three children, Catherine, Elizabeth, and Sebastian, his entire extended family, friends, loved ones, and the thousands of people whose lives and careers were influenced and inspired by this amazing individual.

If you would like to honor Paul’s extraordinary life and career, you can make a gift in his memory to support the Hiatt Residency Program in Global Health Equity—one of the many programs Paul led to reduce disparities and improve health outcomes for all.