Jerome Kassirer ​​​​​|  Author, Editor, Physician

A young doctor Kassirer at Tufts Medical Center
Dr. Jerome Kassirer, Editor of the New England Journal of Medicine
Dr. Kassirer in 2012
What they're saying about Unanticipated Outcomes
“Unanticipated Outcomes: A Medical Memoir: a story that takes us through the life of a legendary figure in modern medicine, a man who, above all else, embodied what it meant to be, and, what it still means to be, a professional. At a time when we increasingly read about disillusionment and burnout among physicians, the high costs of drugs and care, and the corrupting influences of money on medicine, Kassirer’s book1 reminds us why we became doctors. His life lessons are timeless.” (Click HERE   to download the full review.)
Dr. Vinay Prasad, JAMA
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“Jerry Kassirer was fired as Editor-in-Chief of The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) in 1999. Two decades later, he has written, in the guise of a memoir, a blistering attack on his former employer, the Massachusetts Medical Society. Revenge, it is often said, is a dish best served cold. Kassirer relives old battles and settles outstanding scores. He savages the present state of medicine and medical journals. And he offers a bleak view of the future for a profession he clearly loves. Unanticipated Outcomes: A Medical Memoir is a painful autoautopsy of a successful life brought down by the greed of small minds and the tripwire of personal foible.” (To read the full article, click HERE to download the full review PDF)
Richard Horton, Lancet
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The publication of Unanticipated Outcomes, the personal story of Jerome P. Kassirer, former editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine, gives the opportunity to consider the ethical principles of biomedical and scientific publishing. Conflict of interests, reporting,
and fraud affect the credibility of medical communication, which rests on the robustness and transparency of its processes. Not all is yet lost, but we must be guided by strong moral principles and to a consistent framework of values.”  (Click HERE to download the full review PDF) 
Tom Jefferson, Oxford, in Recenti Progressi in Medicina
(Also download a review HERE  in Italian from Luca Di Fiore,   Editor-in-chief, Recenti Progressi in Medicina, Chair, Associazione Alessandro Liberti Italian Cochrane Network)

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“I first met Dr. Jerome Kassirer in late 1990 as a member of the committee tasked to pick a new editor of the New England Journal of Medicine.  As he answered questions during the interview, I quickly recognized that this Buffalo born and bred physician was everything I admired in a human being – down to earth and straight-forward, smart without being arrogant, brutally honest. Since that time I have come to know Jerry as a treasured friend and trusted advisor. During his tenure as editor of the NEJM, he demonstrated, time and again, courage and clarity in editorials defending the integrity of medical practice and research. And as a friend he has been always available to offer his wise counsel in private – not to mention his willingness to laugh at my usually bad jokes. In this “medical memoir” you will find all these qualities on lively display. It is a great read for anyone who has lived through the past half century of American medicine.” 
Dr. Tim Johnson M.D., M.P.H., Medical Editor, ABC News, retired

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“A virtue of Jerry Kassirer’s memoir is that it appeals to physicians of all sizes and shapes. It provides inspiration for students and trainees to pursue idealistic aspirations.   There are heartwarming tales of physician-patient relationships, gleaned over lifetimes.  It motivates physician-scientists to chase mechanistic reasons to comprehend, in the search to provide better treatment for their patients. And it serves as textbook of leadership for those who venture into those positions.  As the story unfolds, Kassirer is faced with a fork in the road.  He stands on principle versus the Massachusetts Medical Society, which leads to his topple from the Editors’ throne. There are no winners, and readers are left with the dilemma of whether they would have had the courage to stand up to such an establishment.  A compelling, well written, page turner.” 
Michael  P. Madaio, M.D.,Virgil P. Sydenstricker Chair of Internal Medicine, Medical College of Georgia


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“Dr. Jerome Kassirer’s book, Unanticipated Outcomes, is the engaging and honest memoir of one of the Greats of American Medicine. Told with humility and immediacy, it traces his journey from his lower middle class roots to the heights of the academic ivory tower. It is a love story; of American Medicine, The New England Journal of Medicine, and of the triumph of merit over class in America. All physicians who care about science and integrity in our beleaguered environment should read it. Young medical trainees, who are unaware of Dr. Kassirer’s accomplishements, should find it a humane and compassionate guidebook for a career in Medicine.”
Stuart B. Mushlin M.D., FACP, The Master Clinician in Internal Medicine, Brigham and Womens Hospital, Boston

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“How does a poor kid from Buffalo rise to become editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine?And how, after nearly a decade of editorial accomplishments, does he manage to enrage his masters at the Massachusetts Medical Society? The answer is about integrity - and not wanting to sell it. "Unanticipated Outcomes" is a great read, really enjoyed it.
H. Gilbert Welch MD, MP, is Professor of Medicine, Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice, and author of "Less Medicine, More Health"


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 “Unanticipated Outcomes is a personal memoir that tracks [Kassirer’s] fascinating trajectory from modest background to serendipitous medical student to eventually the editorship of the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), and his later career following his dismissal from said journal.
   Given that Dr Kassirer began medical school in 1953, assumed the esteemed NEJM editorship in 1991, and was ousted from the position in 1999, you could ask what is the pertinence of this memoir in 2017? Yet the rise of “fake news” and the disintegration of ethics among many academic physicians—and even at the highest echelons of the world’s most mighty democracy … make Kassirer’s medical memoir a still relevant and compelling read.
  Young physicians in need of a historical appreciation of the profession and its contemporary debates should find the book refreshing and relevant. In recent years, the commercialisation of academic medicine has only grown and become more pervasive. … academic “leaders” audaciously claim that via the sanctity of transparency, and by declaring their conflicts of interest, their industry interactions hold no influence on their decision making or proclamations as guideline writers.
  Unfortunately, while such declarations are necessary, they are by no means sufficient to control conflicts of interest—a fact well appreciated by Kassirer. In this context, it is incredibly refreshing to read Kassirer’s memoir, where personal integrity remains meaningful and—in contrast to many current academic leaders—inspiring as an ideal that we should aspire to in our professional lives. Failure to recognise and follow these ideals will undoubtedly lead to outcomes that are not at all unanticipated, but rather all too predictable.” (excerpt; to read the full review, click HERE )
James Brophy is a professor in the Departments of Medicine and Epidemiology and Biostatistics at McGill University, and is a staff cardiologist at the McGill University Health Centre

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  “Americans know medicine has become big business, but they still expect their physicians and the medical journals that inform medical practice to act in their best interests without conflicting loyalties.  As editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Jerome Kassirer battled with the Massachusetts Medical Society (the Journal’s owner) to retain both editorial independence, and control over the commercial use of the Journal’s name and logo in other publishing ventures.  His tenure coincided with a world-wide commercial frenzy, including widespread displacement of medical professionalism by the profit motive.  In his enlightening new memoir, “Unanticipated Outcomes: A Medical Memoir,” Dr. Kassirer recounts his unlikely professional rise from medical school in Buffalo, N.Y. through the halls of academic medicine and then relives his tumultuous years as editor during the 1990s.
  In his thoughtful reflections on his experiences, Dr. Kassirer continues to believe  – as do I – that his uncompromising defense of editorial independence, and his continual criticism of moves to convert the practice of medicine into a for-profit business in his 70 editorials, were right and necessary. But he also sees now that the forces allied against him were much more formidable than he realized at the time – including most prominently the Massachusetts Medical Society’s own “parent,” the American Medical Association – and that his battle to simultaneously uphold his strong ethical stance and remain as editor-in-chief was a battle he could not win. His firing should not have been an “Unanticipated Outcome.”  

  An insider’s account of the real life politics and economics of academic medical publishing, this memoir will be of interest to anyone who cares about the future of American medicine and the corrupting role commercialism continues to play in shaping that future.” ​​

George J. Annas, William Fairfield Warren Distinguished Professor at Boston University and Director of the Center for Health Law, Ethics & Human Rights at Boston University School of Public Health; Professor, School of Law and School of Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine

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​  “Jerry Kassirer, it turns out, is not only an esteemed doctor, researcher, teacher, and editor – but also a master storyteller. His journey from the streets of Buffalo to the hallowed halls of one of Boston’s revered medical institutions to the pinnacle of the world’s leading medical journal is almost too amazing to be true. But then he was faced with one of life’s most difficult choices – whether or not to be true to his values and thereby risk the editorship he so prized. His story, his choice, and his wisdom transcends medicine and will leave you pondering the nature of grit, courage, risk and sacrifice.”
​​Harlan Krumholz, M.D., Harold H. Hines, Jr. Professor of Medicine (Cardiology) and Professor in the Institute for Social and Policy Studies, of Investagative Medicine and of Public Health (Health Policy); Director, Center for Outcomes and Reasearch and Evaluation, Yale-New Haven Hospital

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  “Jerry Kassirer has written a compelling account of his extraordinarily successful and wide-ranging life in medicine. Much of it focuses on his eight-year tenure as Editor in Chief of the world's most prestigious medical journal, the New England Journal of Medicine, which through historical accident is owned by the Massachusetts Medical Society. Despite his remarkable achievements as editor (I know; I was there), his tenure became increasingly tumultuous and he was abruptly fired. The reasons probably had to do with the principled stands he took both in his editorials and in his dealings with the MMS. To him, medicine was a profession, not a business, and the editor of the NEJM should primarily be responsible to the readers and the public, not the owners. I thought then, and I think now, that he was right in those ideals.”
​​Marcia Angell, member of the faculty of Global Health and Social Medicine and former Editor in Chief of the New England Journal of Medicine

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“Jerry Kassirer’s trajectory, from medical student in Buffalo to editor of the most prestigious medical journal in the world could be a compelling book in itself, full of its own wonderful anecdotes that reflect both his times and the events that shaped his values. But it is the battle that takes shape when those values come into conflict with commercialism that makes this a terrific memoir.”

​​Abraham C. Verghese, M.D., MFA, MACP, DSc. Professor of Medicine, Senior Associate Chair for the Theory and Practice of Medicine, Stanford University; author of "Cutting for Stone."
​(Read Dr. Verghese's interview with Jerome Kassirer about the book 
HERE .)