Milton Weinstein honored at career symposium

Milton Weinstein lauding in audience
Milton Weinstein, front row left

June 7, 2019—Colleagues and former students of Milton Weinstein, Henry J. Kaiser Professor of Health Policy and Management at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, recently gathered for a celebration honoring his 45-year career. Weinstein is known for his foundational work in comparative effectiveness, a field that seeks to identify what clinical and public health interventions work best for improving health. At the event, speakers praised him for the creativity and analytical rigor of his research, as well as for his generosity as a mentor and collaborator.

Weinstein’s approach to his work is both idea- and people-oriented, Harvey Fineberg, professor emeritus and former dean of the School, told the audience at the May 31 event in Kresge G-1. Fineberg was a co-author with Weinstein of the book Clinical Decision Analysis, considered a classic text in the field. He said that as a researcher, it would be hard to find a “package more astute, more dedicated, more accomplished, more farsighted, and with a greater effect on many lives” than Weinstein.

At Harvard Chan School, Weinstein is academic director of the Center for Health Decision Science, and faculty chair of the Comparative Effectiveness Research Initiative. He is a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, and previously held a faculty appointment at Harvard Kennedy School. Weinstein co-developed computer simulation models that have been used in cost-effectiveness studies on preventing AIDS complications and evaluating methods of cardiovascular prevention and treatment.

Kenneth Freedberg, professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management, who has collaborated with Weinstein through the Cost-effectiveness of Preventing AIDS Complications (CEPAC) group, called him a genius. “He sees the world that you and I see, but he also sees the world differently, in mathematics and equations,” he said.

“Having Milt in the room automatically raises the bar in the analytical conversation,” said Sue Goldie, Roger Irving Lee Professor of Public Health and director of the Center for Health Decision Science. She told the audience that reading Weinstein’s book brought her to Harvard Chan School and ultimately changed the course of her career. She said that Weinstein taught her the “art of decision science,” and that working with him has made her a better analytical thinker, communicator, and mentor.

In his remarks, Weinstein said that while he is proud to see that his field has become more mainstream in public health and medicine, his students “will always be the career achievement of which I am most proud,” and acknowledged by name some of his academic “children” and “grandchildren” in the audience.

Speakers at the event and in video remarks shared memories of Weinstein, and photos from different facets of his career and personal life—young researcher sporting 1970s hair, collegial international collaborator, avid mountain climber, marathon runner, pianist, and loving grandfather.

Although Weinstein is retiring from his current role, he will stay connected to the School as Henry J. Kaiser Research Professor of Health Policy and Management starting in July.

Amy Roeder

Photo: Osa Igiede