J. Cassell, MD, M.A.C.P.
Emeritus Professor of Public Health
Weill Medical College of Cornell University
Adjunct Professor of Medicine
Faculty of Medicine McGill University
Attending Physician, New York Presbyterian Hospital
Phone: (917) 3654-5639
Email: Eric "at" EricCassell.com
Education and Professional
I retired from the active practice of internal medicine in 1998 after
thirty-seven years. I received my BA from Queens College in 1950, an MA
from Columbia University also in 1950 and my M.D. from New York University
College of Medicine in 1954. I did my postgraduate training in Internal
Medicine on the 3rd Medical Division of Bellevue Hospital in New York
City. I was a U.S. Public Health Service Fellow in infectious disease
in the Department of Public Health of Cornell University Medical College
serving under Dr. Walsh McDermott and Dr. Rene Dubos. I was a captain
in the Medical Corp of the U.S. Army from 1956 to 1958 in France (how
I remained in the Department of Public Health at Cornell where, in 1961,
I started doing research and writing extensively on the health effects
of air pollution which continued for several years. I have been on the
faculty of New York University School of Medicine and Mount Sinai School
of Medicine. I am a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National
Academy of Sciences and a Master of the American College of Physicians.
I was a member from 1997 to 2001 of the President’s National Bioethics
Interests and some personal
I was born, raised, and educated in New York City. I have loved medicine,
sick people, doctors, and almost all else about medicine for a very long
time. (I don’t love hospitals as much now as before.)
In 1971, a generous fate (and something I had written) placed me on The
Task Force on Dying at the Hastings Center. That literally changed my
life, broadened my horizons, pushed me to become literate, and gave substance
to a genetic predisposition to philosophy. I began to wonder whether a
doctor could actually treat patients in a successfully useful and special
way because they were dying. So I started doing that in the fall of 1971.
Now we know you not only can, but you should.
Since that time I have written a lot about moral problems in medicine,
the care of the dying and the nature of suffering. I am the author of
The Healer's Art, The Place of the Humanities in Medicine, Changing Values
in Medicine, two volumes on doctor patient communication entitled Talking
with Patients, Doctoring: The Nature of Primary Care Medicine, and The
Nature of Suffering, now in its second edition (2004 – please read
the new chapters about mind/body and meaning). The Nature of Healing was
published by Oxford University Press early in 2013. A new book, The Nature
of Clinical Medicine, which has taken 25 years to be born, was published
by Oxford in the Fall of 2014.
Since retiring, and with the blessing of enough sleep and not so much
worry, I continue actively to teach, lecture widely, and write (and write).
My major interest is the theory of clinical medicine and the development
of new ideas to guide medicine’s practice and teaching. One of my
tests for every idea continues to be whether it works in end-of-life care.
I am married to Patricia
Owens, who knows more about disability policy than anyone in the world,
and who taught me all I know about disability. Between us we have eight
grown children, but not enough grandchildren. We live both in rural Pennsylvania
and in Brooklyn, under the Brooklyn Bridge.