April 28, 2008

Dr. Herman Alfred Tyroler

Dr. Herman Alfred Tyroler

Dr. Herman Alfred (Al) Tyroler, Alumni Distinguished Professor Emeritus of epidemiology at the UNC School of Public Health, died Feb.18, 2007. He was 82. A memorial service attended by more than 175 people was held in his honor at UNC on Sept. 28, 2007.

“The community of Al Tyroler’s former students, colleagues and friends mobilized to celebrate the life of this outstanding public health scientist, mentor and lifelong learner,” says Dr. Gerardo Heiss, Kenan Distinguished Professor of epidemiology at the UNC School of Public Health. “We received moving contributions from many parts of the world, and vivid testimonials were shared by the many who came to speak with affection and gratitude of this wise teacher and brilliant colleague. We were particularly pleased that Al’s family could be at the center of this celebration of his life.”

Born September 5, 1924, in Brooklyn, N.Y., Tyroler had a transformative influence on the field of epidemiology. Since the early 1950s, his enthusiasm about epidemiology and desire to harness this new discipline to improve the wellbeing of communities contributed to the shaping of cardiovascular epidemiology, its mission and accomplishments.

Tyroler graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Ohio University in 1943, received a doctorate in medicine from New York University College of Medicine in 1947, and completed additional medical training at Cornell University, New York Medical College and Metropolitan Hospital in New York City. He served in the U.S. Air Force Medical Corps for two years before being appointed research director of the Occupational Health Services and, soon after, research director of the Health Research Foundation in Asheville, N.C.

In 1960, Tyroler joined the UNC Department of Epidemiology faculty. He became a full professor in 1967 and was named Alumni Distinguished Professor in 1979. His career at UNC spanned more than 40 years, during which he achieved national prominence for his work in the United States and internationally, including long-time consultancy to the World Health Organization and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. His influential studies in the areas of cardiovascular disease, genetic epidemiology, minority health, women’s health and international health reflect the range of his intellectual curiosity.

Tyroler earned election to the Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences. His numerous honors include the American Heart Association’s Distinguished Achievement Award and Ancel Keys Lecture; the American Public Health Association’s John Snow Award; the UNC School of Public Health’s Edward G. McGavran Award for Excellence in Teaching and the Bernard G. Greenberg Alumni Endowment Award.

As a particularly fitting way to honor Al Tyroler’s life-long dedication to teaching and mentoring, a scholarship was established in his honor at UNC. Donations may be made in Tyroler’s memory with checks to “UNCCH School of Public Health Foundation, Inc.” referencing “H. A. Tyroler Scholarship” in the memo field. Mail gifts to UNC School of Public Health, P.O. Box 309, Chapel Hill, N.C. 27514-0309. You may give online at www.sph.unc.edu/giving. For more information, contact Stephen Couch at (919) 966-0219 or stephen_couch@unc.edu.

Carolina Public Health is a publication of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Public Health. To subscribe to Carolina Public Health or to view the entire Spring 2008 issue in PDF, visit www.sph.unc.edu/cph.