Claire Panosian

Emeritus Professor of Medicine

Claire B. Panosian Dunavan (born April 16, 1951 in Los Angeles) is a physician, emeritus professor of medicine, science journalist, television presenter, and former president of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (2008).


  • ONCE A MONTH, I open e-mail with an extra rush on anticipation. It’s usually the day after my column, “The Doctor Files,” runs in the Health Section of the Los Angeles Times. Because the column shares true stories as well as the emotional side of doctoring, it invariably touches someone. Sometimes I receive as many as 20 responses—positive and negative. I might go through a dozen drafts to produce my final 800-word version, but I consider the time well spent. Revealing medicine’s humanity and inner workings to readers has become, in a way, my personal crusade.
    I’m an infectious diseases and tropical medicine specialist. Since 1987, I’ve also been a broadcast journalist, a lay lecturer, a magazine writer, and a columnist. I didn’t set out to combine medicine and communications. In fact, 17 years ago, as a rookie ID attending, the possibility of someday linking two careers never crossed my mind. ...
    If you want to tool up, fine; there are many avenues to learning the crafts of print and broadcast journalism, even acting classes and Toastmasters to aid effective public speaking. But the foremost key is discovering your own message and passion, whether it be antibiotic use and abuse, food and water safety, or vaccination. Most importantly, never underestimate the power of a human story, simply and honestly told. And in infectious diseases, do we have stories.
    • (2001). "My Two Careers". Infectious Diseases in Clinical Practice 10 (3): 137-139. (quote consisting of 1st, 2nd, and last paragraphs)
  • The truth is, medical doctors are more likely to commit suicide than any other professional group. But facing this fact remains largely taboo. Fear of stigma is one reason broken healers often hide or self-treat their pain (with substances legal and not). Fear of repercussion from hospitals and licensing boards is another.
    Why certain physicians kill themselves is harder to parse. Are they melancholy from the get-go — or does work push them over the edge? Although research suggests that many doctors are emotionally muted, experts also believe they start life with no greater risk of depression than anyone else. Yet once a day, on average, an American physician takes his or her life.
  • Dengue incidence has increased thirty-fold over the last fifty years. Fifty percent of the world's population is theoretically at risk.