Leon Gordis, MD MPH Dr. PH, giant of public health epidemiology, former Chair at Johns Ho;pkins, dies RIP great one

I have an intense admiration for Leon Gordis, because he taught me the rules of epidemiology.

Hie work is forever, for many reasons, one reason is that he was one of the three authors of the Federal Judicial Center’s Reference Manual on Scientific Evidence chapter on Epidemiology for all three editions, 1994, 2000 and 2011. The Reference Manual was organized and published to educate Judges on their role as gatekeepers of reliable scientific evidence and testimony in the federal courtrooms.



Dr. Gordis taught me so much about how to deal with population studies and evaluate methodology for proving up toxicity and benefits. He taught me the limits of observational studies, used so much by the Public Health and social sciences communities.

Too bad his students, or colleagues who have been active and influential on air pollution issues in the EPA didn’t learn anything or forgot everything he taught them about the weaknesses of observational population studies, the importance of a simple thing like the importance of robust associations. The fraud of putting up observational studies as though they were randomized controlled trials and could be trusted for reliable small associations.

I have a friend, colleague, fellow emergency physician, Clyde Turner, (Col. Ret. US Army)who got an MPH at Johns Hopkins, I think probably when he was working at the Pentagon, just up the road. Clyde was a student of Leon Gordis, when we talked about Gordis he had vivid memories of Gordis and his energetic teaching. Clyde sent me the announcement sent out to former students, friends and colleagues by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Dept. of Epidemiology.

Here it is:

Department of Epidemiology

October 3, 2015

Dear Clyde,

It is with great sadness that I write to share with you the passing of one of our school’s most venerated educators – Leon Gordis, MD, MPH ‘66, DrPH ‘68, Professor and former Chair (1975-93) died on September 7, 2015, at Mount Sinai Roosevelt Hospital in New York at the age of 81 years.
Almost all students at the school between 1975 and 2008 learned about epidemiology from Dr. Gordis. And we all have a very healthy fear of egg and tuna salad to show for it! His humor and patient, clear descriptions of the principles underlying epidemiology made this foundational course a central part of our education. Leon taught legions of public health and medical students epidemiology for 30+ years, and he continued to teach in our Summer Institute until five years ago. He will be deeply missed but his passion for epidemiology and, indeed, for pedagogy, lives on in all the students whose lives and minds he touched.

To learn more about Dr. Gordis and his career, his impact, and his legacy click here:


Over the past two weeks I have received many calls and emails from alumni asking how they can make a donation in honor of Dr. Gordis. Contributions to honor and remember Dr. Gordis may be made to the Leon Gordis Memorial Fund at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Funds donated in honor of Dr. Gordis will be used to enhance and expand the teaching opportunities for doctoral students in the Department of Epidemiology.

To join me and Jon Samet in making a gift to honor and remember Dr. Gordis, click here:

Of note, Moyses Szklo is heading a planning committee for a symposium to honor and remember Dr. Gordis. It will take place at the Bloomberg School in the spring of 2016. More details to come.

Kind regards,


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