People I admire: Dr. Paul Offit

In order to comply with the “gag rule“, I’m not going to tell you what Dr. Paul Offit does for a living. I’m not even going to tell you what his books are about. You can go read all about him at his work webpage. What I am going to tell you, or write to you, is that I admire the man for a myriad of reasons that are both professional and personal. Professionally, I admire his brain and his dedication to promoting the health and well-being of children everywhere. He has done a lot. Personally, I admire his ability to take the verbal and written abuse he has received from people who oppose the science he promotes.

I recently met Dr. Offit in person attending the launch of the paperback version of his book. I was glad to see that he was very much as he is described by other people who have met him. He was humble and welcoming of all who were there to celebrate his literary accomplishment. There was no hint of a snob. He welcomed us as friends.

During the question and answer session, I asked him a couple of questions. One question was my own, and another was tweeted at me by a friend. He answered these questions without a hint of annoyance, as I have experienced from people who have done far less than he has. The discussions that emanated from these questions were great as well. All in all, it was a great experience for a young epidemiologist like myself.

(Wait. Did writing that I’m an epidemiologist break the gag rule? God, I hope not. This site’s name IS “Epidemiological”, for crying out loud.)

I guess the biggest thing that I have learned from my interactions with and from reading about Dr. Offit is that there are going to be some hard days when one is fighting not only for what one knows to be true but for the sake of the most helpless among us. There are going to be detractors, conspirators, adversaries… Maybe even stalkers. And, as he said, “Life goes on.” We can only worry about what we do in this life. What others do against us is their problem. Or, as I read somewhere at some time, “When the findings are revolutionary, expect a battle, not a commendation.”

Dr. Offit listens to us during the Q&A session
Dr. Offit listens to us

I'm a doctoral candidate in the Doctor of Public Health program at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. All opinions posted here are my own, of course, and they do not necessarily reflect the opinions of my school, employers, friends, family, etc. Feel free to follow me on Twitter: @EpiRen