Paul Farmer, MD, PhD

Social Medicine in Practice:  Examples from Africa and Latin America

October 17, 2006, 12pm-1pm
Rosenstiel Medical Sciences Building 3rd Floor Auditorium

Associate Chief and Co-Founder, Division of Social Medicine & Health Inequalities, Harvard Medical School

Dr. Paul Farmer (born October 26, 1959) is an American professor and physician, currently the Presley Professor of Medical Anthropology at Harvard University and an attending physician at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts.

Farmer helped found the international health organization Partners In Health(PIH) in 1987. Farmer has been the driving force that has developed PIH from its small base in Cange in the Central Plateau of Haiti, into a worldwide health organization that not only treats some of the poorest people on earth but, through research and activism, has helped poor people obtain effective drugs to treat TB and AIDS. Farmer co-founded PIH with Thomas J. White and Todd McCormack and was later joined by Ophelia Dahl, now the organization's executive director, and Jim Yong Kim, who spent time as head of the AIDS department of the World Health Organization and is also a professor at Harvard Medical School.

Farmer has published more than 200 articles, chapters, and books. He has won multiple honors, including a "genius" grant from the MacArthur Foundation. Aside from his hospital in Haiti, which is free to all patients, and his work in Boston, Farmer oversees projects in Russia, Rwanda, and Peru. Dr. Farmer is known for his support of a "preferential option for the poor," a central tenet of Catholic Liberation Theology. His approach has its basis in ethnographic analysis and real world practicality. Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World by Tracy Kidder details Farmer's work in Haiti, Peru and Russia, as well as his efforts to balance clinical and academic responsibilties with having a family of his own.

Dr. Farmer graduated from Duke University in 1982 with a bachelor's degree in anthropology. In 1988 he received his MD degree and in 1990 he received his PhD degree in medical anthropology. Both of these degrees were earned at Harvard. His medical specialty is Infectious Diseases.