One Doctor. Seven Billion Patients.
Moneyball meets medicine in this remarkable chronicle of one of the greatest scientific quests of our time—the groundbreaking program to answer the most essential question for humanity: how do we live and die?—and the visionary mastermind behind it.
Medical doctor and economist Christopher Murray began the Global Burden of Disease studies to gain a truer understanding of how we live and how we die. While it is one of the largest scientific projects ever attempted—as breathtaking as the first moon landing or the Human Genome Project—the questions it answers are meaningful for every one of us: What are the world’s health problems? Who do they hurt? How much? Where? Why?
Murray argues that the ideal existence isn’t simply the longest but the one lived well and with the least illness. Until we can accurately measure how people live and die, we cannot understand what makes us sick or do much to improve it. Challenging the accepted wisdom of the WHO and the UN, the charismatic and controversial health maverick has made enemies—and some influential friends, including Bill Gates who gave Murray a $100 million grant.
In Epic Measures, journalist Jeremy N. Smith offers an intimate look at Murray and his groundbreaking work. From ranking countries’ healthcare systems (the U.S. is 37th) to unearthing the shocking reality that world governments are funding developing countries at only 30% of the potential maximum efficiency when it comes to health, Epic Measures introduces a visionary leader whose unwavering determination to improve global health standards has already changed the way the world addresses issues of health and wellness, sets policy, and distributes funding.
Science writer Smith (Growing a Garden City) deftly blends the biography of remarkable doctor and economist Christopher Murray with a history of his greatest public health project: the Global Burden of Disease studies that chart "the entire burden of disease for every place and every person on Earth." Smith notes the life events that put Murray on the path to his groundbreaking study: a childhood fascination with maps; family travels to Africa, where his parents ran a small hospital; a stellar academic career at Harvard; a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford; a bitter experience at the World Health Organization; and a lifelong collaboration with health statistician Alan Lopez on creating the Global Burden formula and conducting fascinating studies. Funding from billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates helped launch the Global Burden project, and in 2012, a successful "prepublication presentation" was made in Seattle. Smith's thoughtful, data-dense material is ideal for students of public health policy, who will appreciate why one public health specialist called Murray and Lopez's work "epic squared," but he also makes Murray's relentless search for a way to understand the human health condition into an inspirational tale for everyone.