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Paul Farmer (born October 26, 1959) is an Americanmarker anthropologist and physician, the Presley Professor of Medical Anthropology in the Department of Social Medicine at Harvard Universitymarker and an attending physician at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Bostonmarker, Massachusettsmarker. In May 2009 he was named chairman of Harvard Medical School's Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, succeeding his longtime friend and collaborator Dr. Jim Kim.He currently resides in Cambridge, MAmarker. 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. Dr. Farmer was mentioned as a possible nominee to head the U.S. Agency for International Development, but his nomination was reportedly scotched by the White House. In August 2009, Paul Farmer was named United Nations Deputy Special Envoy to Haiti to assist in improving the economic and social conditions of the Caribbean nation.


Based on a recommendation from a high school teacher, Paul Farmer pursued his undergraduate studies at Duke Universitymarker, graduating in 1982 with a Bachelor's Degree in anthropology. He received his MD from Harvard Medical Schoolmarker and his Ph.D in medical anthropology in 1990 from Harvard Universitymarker.

International work

In 1987, Farmer, along with Ophelia Dahl, Jim Yong Kim, Thomas J. White and Todd McCormack, co-founded Partners In Health. PIH began in Cange in the Central Plateau of Haitimarker 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 Russiamarker, Rwandamarker, Lesothomarker, Malawimarker and Perumarker. His approach has its basis in ethnographic analysis and real world practicality.

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. The book narrates the interactions and conflicts Farmer faces as he attempts to secure healthcare for the poor in third world countries.

Dr. Farmer is a co-founder and Board Member of the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti. [148061]


Farmer has won multiple honors including:
  • A MacArthur Fellowship, 1993
  • The 9th Annual Heinz Award in the Human Condition, 2003
  • Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize for Partners in Health ($1.5 million), 2005
  • American Medical Association's Dr. Nathan Davis International Award in Medicine
  • 2007 Austin College Leadership Award ($100,000), which he will donate to Partners in Health.
  • Member of the Institute of Medicine of The National Academies (U.S.).
  • 2008 Peace Abbey Courage of Conscience Award presented to Dr. Farmer and Partners in Health.

Additional Honors

  • In 2004, Farmer delivered the Lewis Henry Morgan Lecture at the University of Rochestermarker, considered by many to be the most important annual lecture series in the field of Anthropology.
  • Farmer received an honorary Doctor of Science degree from Thomas Jefferson University on June 2, 2006, where he devilvered the keynote address for commencement exercises.
  • He received an honorary Doctor of Science degree from Boston College on May 23, 2005 where he devilvered the keynote address for commencement exercises.
  • Farmer received an honorary Doctor of Science degree from Emory Universitymarker on May 14, 2007, where he delivered the keynote address for the university's 162nd commencement ceremony.
  • He received an honorary doctorate degree from the University of Notre Damemarker on May 20, 2007, where he also was a speaker at the Notre Dame forum in September 2006.
  • Farmer was the invited keynote speaker for the 57th Annual Convention of the American Medical Student Association (AMSA) held in Washington DC. (March 2007)
  • He was the guest speaker for the first Jonathan Mann Health and Human Rights Memorial Lecture, sponsored by the Drexel University School of Public Health, held on the 20th of November, 2007.
  • On May 4, 2008, CBS 60 Minutes did a segment on Dr. Farmer and Partners in Health.
  • In 2008, he was named a "Social Entrepreneur of the Year" by the Skoll Foundation (
  • He received an honorary doctorate degree from Columbia University on May 20, 2009.


  • 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
  • Global Health in Times of Violence, co-edited with Barbara Rylko-Bauer and Linda Whiteford, School for Advanced Research Press, 2009 edition: ISBN 978-1-934691-14-4
  • Women, Poverty & AIDS: Sex, Drugs and Structural Violence (Series in Health and Social Justice), with coauthor Margaret Connors, Common Courage Press; Reprint edition (September 1996), ISBN 978-1-56751-074-4
  • Who removed Aristide?, London Review of Books, ISSN 0260-9592, April 15 2004. Retrieved on 2007-11-19.


Farmer was born in North Adams, Massachusettsmarker and raised in Weeki Wacheemarker, Floridamarker. He and his wife Didi have two daughters, Catherine and Elizabeth, and one son, Sebastian. He currently lives in Rwanda with his family. His younger brother, Jeff Farmer, also known as the nWo Sting, is a well known athlete, competing on the professional wrestling circuit.


  1. Boston Globe, May 15, 2009,
  4. The Heinz Awards, Paul Farmer profile


External links

Democracy Now, May 28, 2008. Interview with Amy Goodman. Transcript, audio and video.

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