Paul Farmer, PhD, MD

Paul Farmer, PhD, MD

Co-founder and Chief Strategist, Partners In Health
Kolokotrones University Professor and Chair, Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School
Chief, Division of Global Health Equity, Brigham and Women's Hospital
Paul Farmer, PhD, MD

We are gutted by the loss of our dear teacher and friend Paul Farmer.   

Paul gave so much to us, to the world, and to humanity and still had more to teach us. We are inspired by him to believe that health equity is possible; that what we do with our time, our resources, our privilege matters; that being powerful does not preclude being humble; and that it is possible to see suffering and injustice and to continue fighting with compassion, love and solidarity, as well as a sense of humor, for what is right. Paul never stopped questioning or thinking hard about what he heard and saw, looking at the world and asking how he could help the most vulnerable.

Despite being tugged in so many directions, he was a devoted teacher and mentor to so many. 

If there is any solace in this loss, through the outpouring of tributes, perhaps the world will learn about Paul–and his vision for what is possible– sooner than it would've otherwise. 
We have a large torch to carry forward. May we do justice to his memory and continue to see the light.


Medical anthropologist and physician Paul Farmer dedicated his life to improving health care for the world's poorest people. He chaired the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine and was a founding director of Partners In Health (PIH), an international non-profit organization that since 1987 provided direct health care services and undertaken research and advocacy activities on behalf of those who are sick and living in poverty. He was also a professor of medicine and chief of the Division of Global Health Equity at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Dr. Farmer began his lifelong commitment to Haiti in 1983 while still a student, working with dispossessed farmers in Haiti’s Central Plateau. He served there for ten years as medical director of a charity hospital, L’Hôpital Bon Sauveur. With PIH over the past twenty-six years, Dr. Farmer led colleagues working in twelve sites throughout Haiti and twelve additional countries around the globe. For more than a decade, the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine has integrated research and teaching programs with PIH service activities, establishing direct feedbacks between clinical interventions and biosocial analyses. The work has become a model for health care for poor communities worldwide and provides the basis for developing a science of global health delivery implementation.

Dr. Farmer held an M.D. and Ph.D. from Harvard University. In addition to his leadership roles at Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Partners In Health, he was the United Nations Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Community Based Medicine and Lessons from Haiti.

Dr. Farmer was the recipient of numerous honors, including the Margaret Mead Award from the American Anthropological Association, the American Medical Association’s Outstanding International Physician (Nathan Davis) Award, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, and, with his PIH colleagues, the Hilton Humanitarian Prize. He was a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.