August 23rd, 2011

William Kannel, Former Framingham Heart Study Director, Dead at 87

William Kannel, the cardiovascular epidemiologist who helped find most of the major risk factors for cardiovascular disease during his lifelong association with the Framingham Heart Study (FHS), died on Saturday at the age of 87. Indeed, Kannel coined the term “risk factor” in a 1961 article in Annals of Internal Medicine.

Kannel “made the courageous decision to refuse medical interventions for cancer and chose to die with dignity with the help of hospice, family and friends,” according to an obituary on the Boston University Medical School website.

Kannel grew up in New York City. He graduated from the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta and trained in internal medicine in the U.S. Public Health Service at Staten Island, New York.

Kannel joined the FHS in 1950 and served as its director from 1966 until 1979. He then served as the principal investigator of the study from 1979 until 1987. He was a professor of medicine at Boston University and continued work as a Framingham investigator until recently.

He is survived by his wife, 4 children, 12 grandchildren, and 23 great-grandchildren.

Further reading:

2 Responses to “William Kannel, Former Framingham Heart Study Director, Dead at 87”

  1. What a great guy! Unlike today’s investigators who too often are studying disease with a target of a financial windfall, Dr. Kannel represented science in its purest form.

    I would think that after an esteemed career of cardiac epidemiology, to die at 87 from a non-cardiac illness represents a win.

    Thank you Dr. Kannel for what you did and what you represented.

    Competing interests pertaining specifically to this post, comment, or both:

  2. Just wanted to add a note about Bill Kannel. I had the pleasure of spending time at Framingham while I was a Fellow – and found Dr. Kannel to be a thoughtful, gentle, caring person who did represent the highest ideals of the profession.