Paul Farmer T'82

Paul Farmer

Physician and medical anthropologist Paul Farmer has dedicated his life to improving health care for the world's poorest people. He is the founder and Chief Strategist of Partners In Health (PIH), an international non-profit organization that since 1987 has provided direct health care services and undertaken research and advocacy activities on behalf of those who are sick and living in poverty. Dr. Farmer began his lifelong commitment to Haiti in 1983 while still a student, working with dispossessed farmers in Haiti's Central Plateau. Over the past twenty years, PIH has expanded operations to twelve sites throughout Haiti and ten additional countries around the globe. Dr. Farmer and his colleagues in the U.S. and abroad have pioneered novel community-based treatment strategies that demonstrate the delivery of high-quality health care in resource-poor settings.

Tracy Kidder's book Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World, chronicles the development of Dr. Farmer's work in Haiti and beyond. Dr. Farmer has written extensively on health, human rights, and the consequences of social inequality. His most recent books are In the Company of the Poor: Conversations with Dr. Paul Farmer and Fr. Gustavo Gutierrez, Reimagining Global Health: An Introduction, and To Repair the World: Paul Farmer Speaks to the Next Generation. His forthcoming book, Fever, Feuds, and Diamonds: Conflict and Ebola in West Africa, will be released in 2020.

Dr. Farmer is the recipient of numerous honors, including the Bronislaw Malinowski Award and the Margaret Mead Award from the American Anthropological Association, the Outstanding International Physician (Nathan Davis) Award from the American Medical Association, a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, and, with his PIH colleagues, the Hilton Humanitarian Prize. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, from which he received the 2018 Public Welfare Medal.

Dr. Farmer graduated from Duke University in 1982, summa cum laude, with a bachelor's degree in anthropology. He holds an M.D. and Ph.D. from Harvard University, where he is the Kolokotrones University Professor and the Chair of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School; he is also Chief of the Division of Global Health Equity at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. Dr. Farmer also serves as the United Nations Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Community Based Medicine.

Dr. Farmer was elected to the Duke University Board of Trustees in 2009 and serves on the External Engagement Committee and Duke’s Centennial Celebration Strategic Task Force.