Council Commentary

Population Council Mourns Loss of Ob/Gyn Pioneer Dan Mishell, Jr., MD

The Population Council mourns the passing of Daniel Randolph Mishell, Jr., MD, a pioneer in the field of obstetrics and gynecology and a longtime advisor and friend to the Population Council. Mishell died peacefully on Wednesday, May 4 at the age of 84.     

Mishell was internationally renowned for his impact on and contributions to the fields of contraception, infertility, and reproductive health. He was a founding member of the International Committee for Contraception Research (ICCR) Council, which was established in 1970.  He served on this committee until 2014 as an active member and consulting senior scientist for the Council, and was affectionately known by the ICCR members as the Committee’s Captain. Notably, Mishell contributed extensively to the development of the copper IUD and Norplant, which forever changed the landscape of contraceptive technologies. He also developed the concept of the contraceptive vaginal ring and collaborated with Dr. Harold Nash at the Council on its formulation.  

Mishell was the Lyle G. McNeile Professor and Chair of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California. Throughout his illustrious career he also served as president of the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology, a fellow of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and founder and editor-in-chief of the peer reviewed journal, Contraception.

"In my lifetime, I don't think there's been anyone else who's had a greater impact on the field of Ob/Gyn," said Paul Brenner, professor of obstetrics and gynecology in the Keck School. "He [was] one of the top clinicians in the country. In terms of teaching, he won virtually every teaching award in his department and in the L.A. area. And as an investigator, he [was] principal investigator on countless studies. He's impacted the field in virtually every way possible.”

Mishell was a true innovator and mentor to many at the Council and within his field. His contributions will continue to impact reproductive and contraceptive medicine, as well as the health and lives of girls and women around the world. His kindness, spirit and wisdom touched many and he will be sorely missed.