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  1. 1

    Dayton Leigh

    What a shock. In my time at The Australian, Quantum and the Sydney Morning Herald, Tony was always available with sane and considered comments and assistance. He’s leaving an enormous gap. Leigh Dayton, Science Writer & broadcaster, PhD Candidate, Macquarie University

  2. 2

    I was very sad to hear of Tony McMichael’s death. I was fortunate to be taught by him at the European Epidemiology course in Florence in 2009 on climate change and health and it had a huge impact on my understanding and commitment to this issue. We went on to write a paper together on climate change and health and I learnt so much from him. His generosity of spirit, commitment, sharp intellect and genuine human rights approach will be sadly missed.

  3. 3

    Fran Baum

    What sad news! Tony’s been one of the front line warriors in the battle for the world to take climate change serious urging politicians to take the action need to make our world sustainable. I’ve loved seeing him being prepared to speak truth to power and point out the dangerous situation we are in. He’s one of Australia’s great public health heros and his leadership, research and advocacy will be very much missed. Many, many condolences to Judith and all his family. RIP Tony.

  4. 4

    Dino Pisaniello

    I was fortunate to have worked with Tony for several years from the late 80’s. What struck me was his incredible intellect, breadth of knowledge and generous spirit. In those days, he didn’t see himself as a crusader on environment and health issues, but worked towards awareness and a shift in thinking at the global level. He succeeded and we are all the better for it. He has been an inspiration to so many people that the momentum will continue.
    Condolences to Judith and family.

  5. 5

    Paul Kelly

    News of Tony’s passing reached me in New York today. I’ve been thinking of the the various interactions we had over the 13 or so years that I knew him, and my last conversation with him on Easter Monday this year, at the Four Winds Festival of classical music near Bermagui, south coast of NSW. He was without doubt the most holistic thinker I have ever met, one of the most entertaining and provocative plenary speakers, a very good pianist and a wonderfully generous host at dinner parties and musical events at his house in Canberra. His 70th birthday and the speech he gave (commencing with a paraphrasing of the opening words of Lincoln’s Gettysburg address) will live long in the memory. He was also very generous with his time, for example when he assisted me in writing and then presenting a new unit in the MPH at Menzies School of Health Research in Darwin (partly based on one of his books). He took a chance and employed me at NCEPH, thus setting me on a new career path. I will be ever grateful for both.

    It is ironic that Tony should pass away this week, when the topic which so dominated the latter part of his long and illustrious career, that is the health effects of climate change, has dominated the world’s media, the general assembly of the United Nations and indeed the streets of New York City. No doubt the lack of major commitments from most of the world’s leaders would have frustrated him. But I am also sure that seeing 300,000 passionate people marching for action would have gladdened his heart. I am sure that his work will continue to be influential in this important policy debate. The baton has now passed to the next generation, may we live up to Tony’s passion, his scientific rigour and his systematic approach. Sincere condolences to Judith and family.

    Dr Paul Kelly, ACT Chief Health Officer

  6. 6


    I was a classmate of Tony’s at medical school at Adelaide University from 1961-66, graduating in 1967. About a decade after we graduated we met again through our mutual involvement with Peter Clark, another classmate, in the old Department of Public Health in Adelaide. Research showing a higher still birth rate in Port Pirie compared with other similar rural towns had raised the question of the possible role of lead. The three of us, lead by Tony, pulled together a successful NHMRC grant application that enabled the first phase of the Port Pirie cohort study examining the effects of lead on pregnancy outcome and subsequent child development to be launched. This was one of three similar studies (others in Boston and Cincinnati) that lead in the early 90s to the removal of lead from petrol. We stayed in touch thereafter. Both of us were also mentored by Basil Hetzel.

    At our recent 47th anniversary reunion in Hobart in March we got talking about climate change and i think some of the seeds for the open letter to the PM in the MJA on its health effects and the importance of it being included in the G20 agenda stem from that weekend.

    Tony sent around a copy of the letter and some of his other papers to our classmates. Then followed an interesting and very civilised, courteous and respectful debate between Tony and a few of the climate sceptics in our year. What was so impressive was Tony’s openness, respectfulness and complete absence of any sense of defensiveness or angst. To say nothing of his knowledge and wisdom. The quality and absolute consistency of the man shone out in those exchanges and is reflected universally in all the posts that precede this one.

    We have lost a giant in every sense of the word.

    Our condolences to Judith, Anna and Celia and their extended family and friends.

    Graham Vimpani
    Conjoint Professor of Community Child and Family Health
    University of Newcastle.

  7. 7

    David F Goldsmith

    Tony’s death is a huge loss for public health and for environmental medicine as well. I had the pleasure and honor to be one of his graduate students and colleagues in the 1970s at the University of North Carolina (UNC). He came to UNC to be one of the epidemiologists on the Rubber Study (funded by the United Rubber Workers union and the rubber and tire companies) at the Occupational Health Studies Group. Tony was the leader of one of the most critical study teams linking benzene exposure and leukemia among tire builders, and authored several superb papers showing excess cancers among rubber workers and the chemicals they were related to. In addition to teaching us how conduct case-control studies within cohorts, he taught all of us the importance (and the joy) of great science writing leading to influential epidemiology research.

    All those with whom he worked at UNC knew Tony was headed for greatness, and he did not disappoint.

    I was honored to present him with the first John R. Goldsmith award given for outstanding contributions to environmental epidemiology in 2000 at the ISEE meeting in Buffalo, New York.

    The world has lost a gentle and humorous giant. My condolences to Judith, his daughters and the rest of his family.

    David F. Goldsmith, PhD


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