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Obituary – Johannes Mosbech (12/02/1922 – 18/02/2013)

Johannes was President of the IEA between 1984 and 1987. His death is a great loss. He obtained his medical degree in 1948 from Copenhagen University and became Dr.Med in 1953. He worked as a consultant in internal medicine at a number of the major hospitals in Copenhagen. From 1957 to 1994 he also worked for the Danish National Board of Health and acted as an advisor to several WHO (Euro) and WHO (Geneva) committees. As a physician he was highly respected in Denmark which certainly helped him in the advice he gave to the National Board of Health. He published outstanding papers on pernicious anaemia, cancer of the stomach and coronary heart disease. He was involved in developing the classification of disease. One of his early papers was on heredity in pernicious anaemia. His interest in classification and diagnosis and in cancer occurrence stimulated his interest in epidemiology. He followed in the footsteps of other eminent Scandinavian physicians such as Professor From Hansen from Copenhagen and Ustvedt from Oslo in developing and contributing to epidemiology as a clinician. These interests stimulated his concern with record-linkage but above all he was concerned with the development and maintenance of the quality of scientific standards. He participated and co-directed one of the early co-ordinated EEC studies on the validity and repeatability of self-reported occupational and industrial history from patients.

As President and member of the Council of the IEA he played a very important role in both developing, and promoting epidemiology both in Western countries as well as in the less developed regions of the world. The respect in which he was held by clinicians in Denmark and the other Scandinavian countries was of inestimable advantage in establishing the influence of epidemiology, as well as the IEA, in Medicine, in a variety of governments and in WHO. He was passionate in promoting the application of epidemiology world-wide, as exemplified by his endeavours to organise Regional meetings of the IEA.

He was a wonderful friend and colleague who really enjoyed life – at home as well as at work. He had a wicked sense of humour, which enlivened many dull meetings of the IEA, WHO and the EC. When abroad it was important to ensure that he had access to a bottle of Tuborg, or even Carlsberg, particularly if there was a difficult problem to be discussed or the danger of jet lag. At home he loved his cottage in the woods by the seaside as well as the wonderful view from the balcony of his apartment in Skodsborg, over the sea to Sweden.

Walter Holland, Former IEA President

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