It was with great shock and sadness that we learnt that Paul, our UKIEG colleague, died on 11 September 2022. Paul was a world-renowned environmental epidemiologist whose inter-disciplinary work was at the forefront of research on climate change, air pollution and the built environment and health. Amongst his many professional activities he found time to support the work of the UKIEG as a very active committee member who had a unique insight into the links between public health, the built environment and climate change.
Paul joined the UKIEG committee in 2014 and was elected for further terms of office in 2017 and 2020. UKIEG recognised the high importance of his research work before that time and the committee was delighted that he accepted our invitation to give an invited keynote lecture to our 2013 (10th anniversary) conference. The lecture he presented was entitled ‘Health refurbishment’ and was enlightening in its breadth and in its gravitas in recognising the serious threat that climate change presents to human health.
Paul trained in medicine and public health, and subsequently developed a comprehensive knowledge and sophisticated understanding of the built environment, including building physics and the underlying regulatory drivers. He understood and sought to enlighten others about the potential major role of the built environment in minimising climate change and ameliorating the adverse impacts on human health.
The 2013 (UKIEG) lecture was just one of many that, along with journal papers, expert committee papers and book chapters, authored or co-authored by Paul, have made a huge contribution to our understanding of links between climate change, air quality and public health. However, for the UKIEG, this conference paper, delivered nearly 10 years ago, was the beginning of Paul’s very close relationship with UKIEG and we have been the stronger ever since for his expertise and wisdom.
The abstract of his 2013 lecture is presented below. It so clearly highlighted the threat to human health from climate change and set out his intention to conduct future research to enable us to ameliorate the expected worldwide impacts on public health.
In recent times, as with many pandemic instigated adaptations, our UKIEG committee meetings became online rather than face to face events. We fondly remember Paul joining our meetings from his home and expertly contributing to the discussions with a great sense of humour – and in the background an astronomical telescope, a further indication of his diverse interests.
It is a great loss to us all that his life and work has ended too soon, but we are grateful for the huge contribution to public health that he achieved; all of us on the UKIEG committee are honoured to have worked with him.
Members may wish to read a detailed tribute from his colleagues at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine available at https://www.lshtm.ac.uk/newsevents/blogs/2022/obituary-paul-wilkinson
The UKIEG committee offers our most sincere condolences to Paul’s family and all who had the pleasure of knowing him.