William Kannel, Former Director of the Framingham Heart Study, Dead at 87

William Kannel, the cardiovascular epidemiologist who helped find most of the major risk factors for cardiovascular disease during his lifelong association with the Framingham Heart Study (FHS), died on Saturday at the age of 87. Indeed, Kannel coined the term “risk factor” in a 1961 article in Annals of Internal Medicine.

Kannel “made the courageous decision to refuse medical interventions for cancer and chose to die with dignity with the help of hospice, family and friends,” according to an obituary published on the Boston University Medical School website.

Kannel grew up in New York City. He graduated from the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta and trained in internal medicine in the US Public Health Service at Staten Island, New York.

Kannel joined the FHS in 1950 and served as its director from 1966 until 1979. He then served as the principal investigator of the study from 1979 until 1987. He was a professor of medicine at Boston University and continued work as a Framingham investigator until recently.

He is survived by his wife, 4 children, 12 grandchildren and 23 great-grandchildren.

The funeral will be held at 11 AM on Tuesday, August 23 at Temple Beth Am in Framingham, MA. Contributions in Dr. Kannel’s memory can be made to the Friends of the Framingham Heart Study, 73 Mt. Wayte Ave., Suite 2, Framingham, MA 01702.

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