University of Minnesota

Daniel Schwartz, PhD

1917 — 2009

Daniel Schwartz was a founding father of cardiovascular disease epidemiology in France and head of epidemiology of the French National Institutes of Health (INSERM).

Schwartz was born into a well-known family in medical science and public health and was brother of one of France’s celebrated mathematicians. He is a product of the elite school of France, the Ecole Polytechnique, from which he graduated in 1939, and began his investigative career in tobacco smoking-related diseases. He was early in demonstrating the importance of inhalation in causing lung cancer and tobacco smoking causing cancer of the bladder.

In the 1950s he headed the unit that launched epidemiological studies in a new series including cancer, diabetes, genetic epidemiology, cardiovascular disease epidemiology (built around his colleagues, Josef Lellouche, J.L. Richard, and Pierre Ducimetiere), as well as infectious and environmental diseases, reproductive and neural epidemiology. He became director of research at INSERM in 1962, and was director of statistics at INSERM from 1960-1985.

At the end of his life he developed studies in cohorts of individuals with HIV infection and was one of the first to estimate the risk of transmission of AIDS in the new-born. As a mathematician, he made basic contributions to the design of randomized clinical trials, and wrote widely on “pragmatic versus explanatory” clinical trials. He was the first president of an association of French-language epidemiologists and editor of The Epidemiological and Public Health Review. He was much admired by his colleagues not only for his science but for his “grand culture.” He was a marvelous playwright and a gardener. He pondered without solution many primary problems in science: the rapid evolution of human intelligence, the excess of male births, and other such imponderables. He was a source of intellectual stimulation and inspiration to his colleagues and all who knew him. (PD/HB)


Henry Blackburn

“Daniel Schwartz (1917-2009)” Revue d’Epidemiologie et de Sante Publique 57 (2009), 313-316

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