John Farquhar, MD

Title: Professor of Medicine and of Health Research and Policy, Emeritus

Location: MSOB
Phone: 650-723-6051


John W. Farquhar, MD, a cardiologist, is Professor of Medicine and Health Research and Policy, Founder and Senior Faculty Member of the Stanford Prevention Research Center (SPRC), and the first holder of the C. F. Rehnborg Professorship in Disease Prevention in the Stanford University School of Medicine.  He founded Stanford’s Preventive Cardiology Clinic and SPRC’s Health Improvement Program. He is a founding member of the International Heart Health Society and a frequent contributor to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, most recently as a member of the Committee to Prevent the Spread of CVD into Developing Countries. He was born in Winnipeg, Canada and moved to the United States with his family at the age of 13.

Dr. Farquhar’s interests in disease prevention began shortly after graduating from Medical School, when he realized that far too many men and women in our society were dying young.  This concern led him to specialize in cardiology and the metabolic origins of atherosclerosis.  Four years at the Rockefeller University and early research after he joined the Stanford faculty in 1962 gave him a solid grounding in the causes of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.  From his experience with his patients he realized that cardiovascular disease (CVD) was caused largely by cultural and environmental factors, suggesting the need for a "total community" approach.

He was a pioneer in anticipating an urgent need for medicine to move toward prevention.  In 1968, he embarked on a major career change, spending a year at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine to further his skills in epidemiology needed to devise community-based interventions to stem the CVD epidemic. Dr. Farquhar then formed a nucleus of like-minded researchers to begin, in 1971, the ground-breaking Three-Community Study, in which two "education" communities each received three years of education through newspapers, radio, television and direct mail. 

His group showed that media alone could be very effective in reducing risk for all segments of the population at a relatively low cost.  It led to the Stanford Five City Project (FCP), in which 135,000 people in a total population of 365,000 were exposed to a five-year educational program.  The project again achieved significant success, at low cost, which if replicated nationwide could result in major health benefits.  The project showed that technology transfer can empower local communities to achieve health benefits using local resources, which was clearly demonstrated in the County in which the education occurred.  Many community programs patterned after the Stanford projects appeared, and the Stanford findings improved methods of combating obesity, diabetes, cigarette smoking and HIV/AIDS world-wide.

Dr. Farquhar's Center has expanded its work beyond CVD into women's health, particularly CVD, breast cancer and osteoporosis; adult-onset cancers, advanced nutrition research, youth studies & minority health. The youth studies have shown ways to combat obesity and cigarette use through well-crafted school and after school programs. The Stanford group's minority health research has focused on how to close the gap between health of minorities and other groups

Dr. Farquhar himself is an author of numerous scientific articles and books ranging widely from lipid biochemistry to international health policy.  His book, "The American Way of Life Need Not be Hazardous to Your Health" was a landmark when first published in 1979, symbolizing well his ability to provide clear concepts and effective disease prevention methods.  His work also includes many clinical research studies on diabetes, blood lipids, obesity, and exercise.

Dr Farquhar’s Stanford Center functions as a world-recognized health promotion resource center, providing worldwide training & health policy promotion. For example, Dr. Farquhar chaired the writing of the 1992 "Victoria Declaration on Heart Health" with sixty-four specific policy recommendations for the reduction of cardiovascular disease globally.  This document, now in thirteen languages, contains policies ranging from regulations regarding tobacco use to the special educational needs of women and minorities. He is also the principal author of the 1995 document: "The Catalonia Declaration: Investing in Heart Health," and the 1998 document: “The Singapore Declaration: Forging the Will for Heart Health in the Next Millennium”, which describe many examples of successful prevention programs which yielded benefits greater than cost. These documents also provide convincing evidence that in the absence of wise investment, long-term economic losses in all countries are highly likely. For a list of public service honors and research please visit links below.

CV & Biosketch

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