We are saddened by the recent death of our colleague and friend, Harry Guess, who had been a member of epidemiology's Editorial Board since 1992.
Like many epidemiologists, Harry came to the field indirectly. As a naval officer, he served on Admiral Rickover's staff at the Atomic Energy Commission. After his military service, he completed a PhD in mathematics at Stanford and worked first at Bell Labs and then at NIEHS/NIH, where he developed an interest in risk assessment. Deciding that epidemiology might offer the challenge he sought, Harry left NIH to pursue an MD at the University of Miami and a residency in pediatrics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Harry spent the next 20 years pioneering the field of pharmacoepidemiology. He established the epidemiology department at Merck Research Laboratories and retired from Merck as vice-president in 2003. In the same year, he became the first director of the Center of Excellence in Pharmacoepidemiology and Public Health at the University of North Carolina School of Public Health, where he held professorships in epidemiology, biostatistics, and pediatrics. He made notable contributions to the study of prostate disease and to aspects of infectious diseases, especially vaccine efficacy and safety.
A list of Harry's abilities and accomplishments, exceptional as they were, do not capture the quirky warmth, modesty, and conscientiousness that made him such a beloved teacher and colleague. The following is an e-mail received in our office on 23 December 2005 regarding a paper he had agreed to review:
“I will not be able to complete this review. From the time I learned on 11/29 that my cancer had extensively metastasized, my clinical condition has declined much more rapidly from one day to the next than I thought possible. I am now on UNC Hospice Care and do not expect to live much longer. I apologize for not having been able to complete this assignment.
It has been a pleasure to work with you over the years.”
Harry, the pleasure—and the honor—have been ours. AJW