In the mid-1980s, Dr. Hamburg, along with arms control experts in academia and government and congressional leaders, met periodically with their Soviet counterparts on ways to reduce the risk of nuclear war.
Toward the end of the decade, he recalled, he told Mikhail S. Gorbachev, the last president of the Soviet Union, that at the rate disarmament talks were going, “I think the Cold War might just be over by the year 2000.”
“Well, you know, a year later,” he added, “depending on what criteria you use, one or two years later, it was all over.”
David Allen Hamburg was born on Oct. 1, 1925, in Evansville, Ind., to Samuel and Beryl (Becker) Hamburg. His father, who immigrated from Latvia with his family as a child, had wanted to become a doctor but wound up working in the family’s dry goods store. His mother, a homemaker, was a daughter of Eastern European parents and had been raised in Ireland until she was 14.
David Hamburg earned his bachelor’s degree in 1944 and his medical degree in 1947 from Indiana University — while simultaneously training as an Army medic — and completed his residency at Yale, where he met Beatrix McCleary, the first self-identifying black woman to graduate from Vassar College and the first to graduate from Yale’s medical school.
She died last year. In addition to his daughter, Margaret, who is also a former New York City health commissioner, he is survived by his son, Eric, a public interest lawyer, writer and film producer, and three grandchildren.
Dr. Hamburg was the author of “Today’s Children: Creating a Future for a Generation in Crisis” (1992); “No More Killing Fields: Preventing Deadly Conflict” (2002); “Learning to Live Together: Preventing Hatred and Violence in Child and Adolescent Development” (2004); “Preventing Genocide: Practical Steps toward Early Detection and Effective Action” (2008); “Give Peace a Chance: Preventing Mass Violence” (2013), written with Eric Hamburg; and “A Model of Prevention: Life Lessons” (2015).