Passing the torch: Cardiologist prepares younger colleagues to confront nuclear threat

By Robert Weisman
July 12, 2019

It’s lunch hour at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and the cafe is full of patients and white-coated staffers. At a corner table, Dr. James Muller huddles with junior colleagues discussing a peril that has long preoccupied him: the threat of nuclear war.

“We haven’t yet got the message out to the public,” said Muller, 76, a prominent cardiologist. “It’s a mystery why the presidential candidates are largely silent on this.”

As a young doctor, Muller pressed heads of state to halt weapons-building and spelled out the danger of nuclear arms on Soviet television. He cofounded the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War at the height of the Cold War. Its work earned him and his colleagues — American and Russian heart specialists — the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize for fueling “an awareness of the catastrophic consequences of atomic warfare,” in the words of the Nobel panel. ...

... When playing guitar and bantering with neighbors at the recent Newton Porchfest, the soft-spoken Muller seems like a man who would be content to spend his afternoons belting out Beatles songs on his porch with his wife, Kathleen, and their grown children. But he has long been drawn to social justice issues. He was founding president of Voice of the Faithful, the Catholic laity reform movement spawned by the clergy abuse crisis, after years of sounding the alarm on nuclear weapons. ...



Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.