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Paul R. Epstein

Paul R. Epstein  M.D., M.P.H
Instructor in Medicine
Harvard Medical School
Person Type: 

Paul R. Epstein, M.D., M.P.H., a medical doctor trained in tropical public health, passed away in November, 2011.

Paul Robert Epstein was born on Nov. 16, 1943, in Manhattan, the older of two children of Nathan Epstein, a physician, and Edith HillmanBoxill, a music therapist. He was a graduate of the Little Red School House, a progressive private school, where his classmates included figures active in the '60s antiwar movement like Angela Davis and Kathy Boudin. He graduated from Stuyvesant High School, Cornell University and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Dr. Epstein, a physician and associate director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School, started his medical career working in low-income communities, from East Cambridge to the east coast of Africa. After spending 1978 through 1980 in Mozambique with his wife, Andy, a nurse, he enrolled in a master's program in tropical public health at Harvard. Soon he was making critical connections between the emergence and re-emergence of infectious diseases and climate change.


Dr. Epstein worked in medical, teaching and research capacities in Africa, Asia and Latin America and in 1993,and coordinated an eight-part series on Health and Climate Change for the British medical journal, Lancet. He also worked with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to assess the health impacts of climate change and develop health applications of climate forecasting and remote sensing. He was the associate director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment from 1996-2011.

Dr. Epstein also served as a reviewer for the Health chapter of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment and coordinated Climate Change Futures: Health, Ecological and Economic Dimensions, an international project with Swiss Re and the United Nations Development Programme assessing the new risks and opportunities presented by a changing climate. He has also prepared the report Healthy Solutions for the Low Carbon Economy: Guidelines for Investors, Insurers and Policy Makers that examines the "stabilization wedges" through the lens of health and ecological safety.

He coordinated two Cat Modeling Forums with A.I.G., Lloyd's of London and other insurers and insurance brokers, facilitating integration of dynamic and statistical models for better risk assessment and reduction. Dr. Epstein received recognition for his contributions to the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former Vice President Al Gore.

Photo C. 2007 Lisa Green.