Stanford Report Online

Stanford Report, June 20, 2001
Professor emeritus Paul Basch dies at 67


Paul F. Basch, PhD, MPH, professor (emeritus) of health research and policy, died Thursday at Stanford Hospital following open-heart surgery complications. He was 67.

Basch’s authoritative Textbook of International Health, first published in 1989 and revised in 1999, is considered a landmark in the field, as are his other books and more than 100 field and laboratory research papers, primarily on parasitic diseases. He also wrote Vaccines and World Health: Science, Policy and Practice and Schistosomes: Development, Reproduction, and Host Relations.

Basch — along with Stanford professor Stanley Falkow, MD; associate professor Robert Siegel, MD, PhD; and medical school colleagues — contributed to multimedia education software targeted to pre-clinical students and those reviewing for board exams. The "Microbe" software covers more than 150 microorganisms and 50 syndromes.

John Boothroyd, PhD, professor of microbiology and immunology, said he considered Basch a good friend as well as a colleague. "Without detracting from anyone, I think it could be fairly said that he was the only real parasitologist at this university over the last two decades at least," Boothroyd said of Basch.

"He had a passion for the discipline and taught generation after generation of medical and undergraduate students all he could about this subject. A few years back, his parasitology course was merged with our medical microbiology course but he continued to teach almost all of the parasitology to great reviews. He was a successful bench scientist but chose to give that up in favor of policy a decade or so ago," Boothroyd added.

Basch was born in 1933 in a town near Vienna. He left Austria in 1939 to escape Nazi occupation. His parents sent him and his older brother Henry to England, where they were cared for by a childless British couple. The family was later reunited and together set out on a ship convoy from Liverpool to New York.

He received his undergraduate degree in biology from the City College of New York and an MS (1956) and a PhD (1958) in zoology from the University of Michigan. In1967 he received an MPH in epidemiology from UC-Berkeley. He held a faculty post at Kansas State Teachers College for three years but decided to relocate and pursue a career that would take him to many parts of the world.

From 1962-70 he served at UC-San Francisco’s International Center for Medical Research and Training, which operated an overseas program that took him to Malaysia and Brazil. In early 1966 with grant support from the Rockefeller Foundation he studied host-parasite relations between schistosomes and snails both in the field and at the Instituto Nacional de Endemias Rurais in Brazil. He met a researcher named Maria Natalícia Mourão at the institute and the two were married in August 1966. They moved to San Francisco and worked together at UCSF while Paul studied part-time at UC-Berkeley School of Public Health.

In 1970 Basch joined the faculty at Stanford. He continued research on the biology of schistosome parasites and for 30 years taught classes in medical parasitology and international health. In 1975 he was named deputy chairman of the U.S. Schistosomiasis Delegation from the National Academy of Sciences to China, one of the earliest official delegations to that country. While in rural China he experienced a serious heart attack — an incident that was reported by Basch in Archives of Internal Medicine with Harvard’s J. Stauffer Lehman, who was with him at the time. After recuperating in China, Basch returned to Stanford and continued his teaching and research.

He took early retirement in 1997 to devote his time to writing and to international consulting activities. He is survived by his wife Natalícia Basch, of Stanford; sons Daniel, of Arroyo Grande, Calif., and Richard, his wife, Susan; and grandson, Nicholas, of Scottsdale, Ariz.; and a brother, Henry D. Bates, of Saint Augustine, Fla.

In lieu of flowers the family requests that memorial contributions be sent to The Global Fund for Women, 1375 Sutter St. Suite 400, San Francisco, CA, 94109. A memorial service will be held in October at Stanford.