Obituary: Tony McMichael

Tony McMichael. Photo: Michael John Hood

Professor Tony McMichael was an eminent, world-famous Australian epidemiologist. He retired from the Australian National University in 2012, where he held a National Health and Medical Research Council Australia Fellowship.

Born in 1942, Tony was a medical graduate from Adelaide University (1967) and was the first doctoral student in epidemiology at Monash University in Melbourne, where he graduated in 1972. Following postdoctoral research at the University of North Carolina he returned to Australia and became Foundation Chair in Occupational and Environmental Health at the University of Adelaide. From 1994 to 2001 he was Professor of Epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, then returned to Australia as director of the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health where he served from 2001 to 2006.

Tony was a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering and of the Chatham House on Global Health Security, Honorary Professor of Climate Change and Health at the University of Copenhagen, Honorary Fellow of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and a long-standing advisor to the World Health Organization. In 2011 he was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO), and was elected to the US National Academy of Sciences. Having led the assessment of health risks for the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change from 1993 to 2006, he was a co-recipient of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.

We are proud of Australia’s contribution, through Tony, to increasing international public and political awareness of human health as the important consequence of a changing global climate.

Tony was internationally recognised for his pioneering work in environmental health and he led the world in coming to understand and striving to address the challenges and opportunities climate change raises for human health.

Tony contributed his tremendous expertise to many Academy projects and his Festschrift celebrating his extensive record of research achievement was held in the Shine Dome in November 2012. Most recently, the Academy was very fortunate to receive Tony’s generous advice and inspiring contribution in the planning and conduct of the 2014 High Flyers Think Tank on Climate change challenges to health: risks and opportunities. We are proud of Australia’s contribution, through Tony, to increasing international public and political awareness of human health as the important consequence of a changing global climate.

Tony passed away on 26 September 2014 following flu-related complications. He is survived by his wife Judith, his daughters Anna and Celia, four grandchildren, and his brothers Philip and Robert.

© 2021 Australian Academy of Science

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