Olav Axelson died suddenly 1 March 2004, after a short period of illness. He was 66 years old. Professor Axelson received his medical training in Gothenburg, Sweden. In 1969, he came to the newly established Clinic of Occupational Medicine in Örebro, Sweden, where he began his scientific career by carrying out the first Swedish epidemiologic study of radon exposure in mines and lung cancer. In 1977, he moved to the University Hospital in Linköping where he became Sweden's first Professor in Occupational Medicine. There he founded the Clinic of Occupational Medicine and continued his research on radon exposure. In 1979, he published a groundbreaking study on the health effects from radon exposure in homes.
His work spanned most areas of occupational epidemiology, and he made useful theoretical contributions as well. He was author of more than 300 articles and book chapters. As a member of World Health Organization (WHO) working groups, he contributed to 8 WHO monographs. He also supervised 20 doctoral dissertations, some with students from Italy, a country with which he enjoyed a special relation. In 1985, he was inducted as a Fellow of the Collegium Ramazzini. Even after his retirement in 2002, he continued his work at the Departments of Occupational Medicine in both Linköping and Örebro.
Professor Axelson was a brilliant scientist and a man of great integrity. His work was characterized by intellectual sharpness and wisdom, together with a pursuit for justice. His former colleagues, friends, and disciples at the Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine in Linköping are grateful for the privilege of working with him.
Professor Axelson is survived by his wife Gudrun, his son Torbjörn and family, and his daughter Kicki and family. To honor Professor Axelson, a fund in his name has been established at Linköping University, Sweden. Those wishing to contribute should contact the author.