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This essay serves as the foreword to Public Health & the Law, a symposium dedicated to Professor William J. Curran held in 1987.

During his career, Professor Curran chaired the Harvard School of Public Health Committee on Human Research; he directed the Program in Law and Public Health; and he was co-director of the Harvard Interfaculty Program in Medical Ethics from 1973 to 1980. He was also an advisor to the World Health Organization and spent two sabbatical periods in Europe with WHO organizations. He advised and lectured in countries throughout the world.

At Harvard Law School and at the Harvard School of Public Health, Professor Curran educated three generations of lawyers who have gone on to hold varied positions of influence in the field of health law--from academia to private practice, from health care delivery and management to government leadership. His textbooks have been a bedrock of learning for students in schools of law, medicine and public health. He commands the respect of colleagues for his rigor and fairness in safeguarding the rights and dignity of human subjects. The American Society of Law and Medicine honored him, together with Professor Jay Katz of the Yale Law School, as the best health law teacher in the nation. The honor bestowed on Professor Curran is especially important because he has been chosen by other health law professors.

Professor Curran's work has had a striking influence on such areas as death and dying, risk management, mental health and public health. His concern is not with reducing medical malpractice claims alone, but with reducing risk for patients as well.

Publication Citation

12 Am. J.L. & Med. 341-344 (1987)