Cristina Isabel Cann, former Associate Editor of Epidemiology, died on the 6th of December 2010. Cristina was a guiding spirit at the journal from its inception until well into the second decade of the journal's history, when the editorial office moved to Durham as Allen Wilcox assumed his position as editor-in-chief. Even before she began her work at the journal, which kept her in contact with nearly every author, she seemed to know every epidemiologist on the planet.
She was born on 1 February 1943, in Argentina, of Indian-African, Japanese, Russian, and Polish ancestry. She moved to the United States at the age of 19, where she married, became a pilot, and pursued a career in health research. She was adept at 7 languages, which she practiced while maintaining contact with epidemiologists in every corner of the world—through the journal, through attendance at meetings, and through her active participation in the World Association of Medical Editors.
Cristina spent her professional life in positions of responsibility across a range of fields in epidemiology, including the Harvard School of Public Health, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the University of Massachusetts, Epidemiology, the Health Effects Institute, and Decision Resources. She was a life-long student of all things epidemiologic, both methodologic and substantive, including various types of cancer, environmental toxins, and nutrition, to name a few. She was also a student of ethics and a long-term IRB committee member. She was relentlessly optimistic about the world, but ethical breaches roused her indignation. Her scientific curiosity led her to attend far more lectures and seminars than anyone else we have known; she gravitated to learning the way a hungry person gravitates to food. But her interest was always pragmatic. She wanted to make the world safer, and epidemiology was a tool to help her in this quest.
Her work and her life were in synchrony, by which we mean that Cristina lived her life in the spirit of epidemiologic inquiry, whether the topic was risk factors for laryngeal cancer, or a referendum on next year's local ballot, or what game to play with her granddaughters when they visited. She investigated the problem, weighed the alternatives, and then made her selection. Cristina pursued her chosen causes—professional, political, and personal—with boundless enthusiasm and an irrepressible good nature. Her optimism and generosity, and the spirit of inquiry, formed the core of her amiable personality. She brightened the lives of all who knew her.