Professor Mary Ethna Black FRCP FPH

Category: 1980s /  All Harkness Stories /  Health & Social Care / 

Professor Mary Ethna Black FRCP FPH (HF 1989-90) is a Northern Irish physician. After attending Rathmore Grammar School, Trinity College Dublin medical school and junior doctor training in Ireland and England, she applied for a Fellowship, intrigued by multi-disciplinary study. Her Master’s Degree at the Harvard School of Public Health concluded with her delivery of the Graduate English Oration at Commencement, and study visits to Alaska, Seattle, US Virgin Islands, and Vermont on public health and environmental protection. In 1991, drawn into the conflict in what was then Yugoslavia, she became WHO Deputy to Sir Donald Acheson, established the medical airlift from the besieged Sarajevo as a Senior Medical Officer with UNHCR, and when pregnant and no longer able to fit a flak jacket—served the humanitarian effort remotely with WHO from Copenhagen. After the war, she established a medical school in Far North Queensland as a Foundation Professor, but returned to Sarajevo and then Belgrade for post-conflict rebuilding. Mary has helped found two successful technology companies, served as a Director of Public Health in London, and was the most senior Public Health Doctor in Scotland during the Covid-19 Pandemic. Her current portfolio career includes Non-Executive Director of the National Centre for Atmospheric Science and the National Centre for Earth Observation, Trustee of Paintings in Hospitals, Honorary Professor at St Andrews University, Visiting Scholar at the Oxford University Centre for Life writing, and Fellow of Chapter Zero. She publishes essays, fiction and memoir and works on mitigating climate change.