News & Blog

21st February 2016

Andrew Herxheimer, 1925-2016

We are saddened to share news of the death of Dr. Andrew Herxheimer, our co-founder and trustee who passed away on Sunday evening.

Andrew was a clinical pharmacologist who, together with Dr. Ann McPherson, came up with the idea for healthtalk.org. Both had medical training but found that this didn’t provide them with the information they craved when they faced their own health challenges – Ann having breast cancer and Andrew preparing for a knee replacement. Both wanted to hear about the experiences of other ordinary people who had the same condition so that they could prepare themselves on what to expect.  

So it was, in the late 1990’s, that they decided to create a ‘database’ of patient experiences (DIPEx) and make the stories accessible online, at a time when internet connections were just starting to find their way into homes across the UK. The website they created, this website, has grown in the number of visitors it receives (5 million per year) and the number of health topics it covers (93 and counting). As of 2015 the website covers both breast cancer and knee replacement – the two health topics that inspired the project. 

The methodology used to collect the patient stories has been honed by the Health Experiences Research Group at the University of Oxford over 15 years. The method has now been exported to 14 countries as part of the DIPEx International project (DI), in which Andrew played a big role. In June 2015 Andrew attended the DI annual meeting in Germany as guest of honour and was recently made President of the organisation. 

In addition to his work with DIPEx and DIPEx International, Andrew had many other strings to his bow. Andrew founded the Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin in 1962 and edited the publication for 30 years, overseeing 778 issues and 2 million words and increasing the readership to 90,000 in his time as editor. Andrew was also Emeritus Fellow of the UK Cochrane Centre and a convenor of the Cochrane Collaboration Adverse Effects Methods Group.

He will be greatly missed by the staff and trustees of healthtalk.org.

Here is an extract from an interview Andrew gave to celebrate his 90th birthday in November, 2015.
 

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