University of Minnesota

Mervyn Susser, MD

Born: 1921

Mervyn Susser is a pioneer epidemiologist-philosopher who is best known for his writings on causal thinking in epidemiology. He was born in South Africa and got his medical degree at the University of Witwatersrand in 1950 and a public health diploma from the London Conjoint Board in 1960. He began his career in a rural African clinic, the Alexandra Health Center, in 1952 and went on to become reader in the department of social medicine at Manchester, and eventually chairman of epidemiology at Columbia University, then directed the Sergievsky Center there for many years.

Susser’s curiosity is broad and his investigative contributions catholic, including nutrition and maternal, prenatal, and child development. His editorial function provided great years for the American Journal of Public Health in the 1990s. His major conceptual contributions are found in books, reviews, and editorials such as these classics: Sociology in Medicine, Causal Thinking in the Health Sciences, and Epidemiology, Health, and Society. He and his wife, Zena Stein, have international roles as teachers to a vast community of devoted students. (HB)


Marquis Who’ Who [online resource], accessed May 30, 2006.

Columbia University, Mailman School of Public Health, faculty page. Accessed May 30, 2006. URL