Paul Farmer

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Dr. Paul Farmer

Paul Farmer (born October 26, 1959) is an American anthropologist 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. His medical specialty is Infectious Diseases. Farmer is one of the founders of Partners In Health (PIH), an international health and social justice organization. His work is the subject of Tracy Kidder's 2003 book Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World.


Farmer graduated summa cum laude from Duke University in 1982 with a Bachelor's Degree in anthropology, having attended on the merit-based Angier B. Duke Scholarship. He received his MD from Harvard Medical School in 1988 and his Ph.D in medical anthropology in 1990 from Harvard University.[1]

International work

In 1987, Farmer, along with Thomas J. White and Todd McCormack, co-founded Partners In Health. PIH began in Cange in the Central Plateau of Haiti and has developed into a worldwide health organization. The PIH hospital in Haiti provides free treatment to patients. PIH helps patients living in poverty to obtain effective drugs to treat tuberculosis and AIDS.

In addition to his hospital in Haiti, Farmer oversees projects in Russia, Rwanda, and Peru. He's known for his support of a "preferential option for the poor," a central tenet of Catholic social teaching. His approach has its basis in ethnographic analysis and real world practicality.[1]

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 responsibilities with having a family of his own.


Farmer has won multiple honors including:[2]

Farmer received an honorary Doctor of Science degree from Emory University on May 14, 2007, where he delivered the keynote address for the university's 162nd commencement ceremony.[3]

He also received an honorary doctorate degree from the University of Notre Dame on May 20, 2007, where he also was a speaker at the Notre Dame forum in September 2006.[4][5]


  • AIDS and Accusation: Haiti and the Geography of Blame, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992, 1993, 2006 edition: ISBN 978-0-520-08343-1
  • The Uses of Haiti, Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press, 1994, 2003, 2005 edition: ISBN 978-1-56751-242-7
  • ¿Haití para qué?, Hondarribia, Spain: HIRU Argitaletxea, 1994
  • Sida en Haїti: La Victime accusée, Paris: Editions Karthala, 1996
  • Infections and Inequalities: The Modern Plagues, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999, revised 2001 edition: ISBN 978-0-520-22913-6
  • Pathologies of Power: Health, Human Rights, and the New War on the Poor, Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003, 2005 edition: ISBN 978-0-520-24326-2
  • Women, Poverty & AIDS: Sex, Drugs and Structural Violence (Series in Health and Social Justice), with coauthor Margaret Connors (Author), Common Courage Press; Reprint edition (September 1996), ISBN 978-1-56751-074-4


Farmer was born in North Adams, Massachusetts and raised in Brooksville, Florida. He and his wife Didi have one daughter. His younger brother, Jeff Farmer, also known as the nWo Sting, is a well known fighter, competing on the professional wrestling circuit.[6]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Paul Farmer, MD, PhD. The Jay Weiss Center for Social Medicine and Health Equity, University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine. Retrieved on 2007-07-01.
  2. "Paul Farmer wins $100,000 Austin College award", White Coat Notes,, February 28, 2007. Retrieved on 2007-07-01. 
  3. Commencement Speaker and Recipients of Honorary Degrees. Commencement 2007. Emory University. Retrieved on 2007-04-09.
  4. Brown, Dennis (April 2, 2007). Nine distinguished figures to join Immelt as honorary degree recipients. University of Notre Dame. Retrieved on 2007-05-29.
  5. Brown, Dennis (August 31, 2006). Jeffrey Sachs, Paul Farmer to participate in Notre Dame Forum on global health crisis. University of Notre Dame. Retrieved on 2007-05-29.
  6. Remnick, David (September 18, 2006). The Wanderer: Bill Clinton’s quest to save the world, reclaim his legacy—and elect his wife. The New Yorker. Retrieved on 2007-05-29.


External links

Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to:
  • Partners In Health
  • Video of Building a Community-based Health Care Movement, Dr. Paul Farmer's speech at University of Washington, by UWTV, November 13, 2006
  • Video of Paul Farmer and Tracy Kidder presenting the book Mountains Beyond Mountains, by Cambridge Community Television, October 20, 2006
  • Video of Reinvigorating the Struggle: A Clinical and Social Justice Perspective on International Health, Dr. Paul Farmer's speech at the University of Virginia, by UVA NewsMakers, (RealPlayer required)
  • Audio reading of a book on about Farmer's work in Haiti, by NPR
  • Audio of Speech by Farmer as part of the 2006 Calvin College January series
  • Audio of Speech by Farmer as part of the 2005 Calvin College January series
  • Audio of Interview of Farmer rebroadcast by WBUR Boston
  • Audio of 10/03/2003 episode of "On Point" which includes an interview of Farmer
  • Audio of a talk at MIT where Farmer and Noam Chomsky speak about Haiti and Farmer's book "The Uses of Haiti" - the link is near the bottom of the page.