2005: Walter C. Willett, MD, DrPH

Walter C. Willett, MD, DrPH, Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition and Chair of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health

The 1st Saxon Graham Lecturer was Walter C. Willett, MD, DrPH, professor of epidemiology and nutrition and chair of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health.

Topc: The Pursuit of Optimal Diets: A Status Report

Willett has focused much of his work over the last 25 years on the development of methods, using both questionnaire and biochemical approaches, to study the effects of diet on the occurrence of major diseases.

He has applied these methods starting in 1980 in the Nurses’ Health Studies I and II and the Health Professionals’ Follow-up Study. Together, these cohorts that include nearly 300,000 men and women with repeated dietary assessments are providing the most detailed information on the long-term health consequences of food choices.

Willett has published more than 900 articles, primarily on lifestyle risk factors for heart disease and cancer, and has written the textbook, Nutritional Epidemiology, published by Oxford University Press. His recent book for the general public, Eat, Drink and Be Healthy: The Harvard Medical School Guide to Healthy Eating, has appeared on most major bestseller lists. 

He is the most cited nutritionist internationally, and is among the 25 most cited persons in all fields of science. Willett is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and the recipient of many national and international awards for his research.