University of Minnesota

Paul Dudley White, MD

1886 — 1973

Paul White was a pioneering cardiologist and a founding member of the American Heart Association. He played a central role in furthering CVD epidemiology from its formal beginnings in the late 1940s.

White was born in Roxbury, Massachusetts and attended the Roxbury Latin School, from which he graduated in 1903. He graduated from Harvard Medical School in 1911 and while on the Pediatrics service at the Massachusetts General Hospital established the MGH cardiology service and became a senior consultant to presidents and royalty for many decades. He spent time as a fellow in the laboratory of Thomas Lewis in London in the 1920s and is credited with the subsequent popular use of the electrocardiogram in Boston and US centers. He held many formal positions including Executive Director of the new National Heart Institute’s Advisory Council, and as President and on the Board of the International Society of Cardiology. He wrote the leading textbook in cardiology of his day, Heart Disease.

His lifelong themes revolved around lifestyle and prevention and medicine as international diplomacy for peace: “A heart attack after age 80 is an act of God; before 80 a failure of medicine.” “A vigorous five-mile walk will do more good for an unhappy but otherwise healthy adult than all the medicine and psychology in the world.” He championed regular and vigorous physical activity, and became a leader and founder of two new disciplines, CVD epidemiology and preventive cardiology.

Paul White joined Ancel Keys in a colorful era of CVD epidemiology, laying the foundation for the formal study of risk factors with a series of field comparisons of coronary disease prevalence, serum cholesterol, and diet differences among cultures in Southern Europe, South Africa, and Japan. He and Keys were central to the introduction of prevention research and principles into mainstream medicine. (HB)

Please click here for a description of the “Coronary Heart Disease in Young Adults. A Multidisciplinary Study.”


Henry Blackburn