Jan Bonhoeffer, M.D., (SAY Yon Bon-hoffer) is a global expert on infectious diseases and vaccine safety and a thought leader on efforts to transform how medical professionals care for their patients—and themselves. He is the author of the book Dare to Care — How to Survive and Thrive in Today’s Medical World.
Dr. Bonhoeffer serves as professor of pediatrics, infectious diseases, and vaccines at the University of Basel Children’s Hospital, Switzerland. As a former consultant with the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control, he co-authored more than 120 peer-reviewed articles in medical journals and led epidemiological pediatric infectious disease and vaccine studies including international research consortia. For 18 years, he led the Brighton Collaboration, a global leader in not-for-profit vaccine safety research setting research standards, conducting large internationally collaborative research, and investigating vaccine safety concerns. In this role, Dr. Bonhoeffer worked to provide high-quality scientific evidence through collaborative efforts for trusted and timely public and private decision-making related to immunizations. His work was primarily funded by the World Health Organization (WHO), U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), European Commission (FP7), Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF). He was a Strategic Advisory Group Member of the WHO Global Vaccine Safety Initiative (GVSI) implementing the vaccine safety strategy of the Global Vaccine Action Plan.
Dr. Bonhoeffer grew up and attended school near Munich in Germany. His mother was an actress, and his father was a lawyer. He graduated from the University of Basel Medical School, Switzerland, and worked in the U.S., the UK, India, and Switzerland. In 2015, he underwent a significant shift in the way that he thought about medicine. He realized that most of the significant moments in his work as a doctor happen when he is not simply executing what he learned in medical school, but when he is participating in a healing event with the patient. He realized that central to this is the quality of the interaction between the health care provider and the patient. It is in this space that innovation, healing, and creativity happens. Yet he realized that almost everything he had learned in medical school had taught him to skip over what happens in this space.
This realization prompted Dr. Bonhoeffer to start Heart-Based Medicine, a global network of health care professionals and patients exploring the natural healing potential of the health care provider and the patient, and to write his new book Dare to Care. His mission is to inspire medical professionals to reclaim empathy and compassion as primary facets of healing to overcome the disillusion and burnout they often encounter in today’s mechanized medical culture.
Dr. Bonhoeffer is married to Dr. Jessica Templeton-Bonhoeffer, a developmental pediatrician and co-founder of Youkidoc Kindergesundheit, a heart-based medical center for children and their families in Basel, Switzerland. They have three children. For more information about his work, visit www.heartbasedmedicine.org.