Born in Melbourne, Australia, Caldicott received her medical degree in 1961 from the University of Adelaide Medical School. In 1977, she joined the staff of the Children's Hospital Medical Center in Boston and was a teacher at the Harvard Medical School in pediatrics from 1977 to 1978. In 1980 she left her medical career in order to concentrate on calling the world's attention to what she perceived as the "insanity" of the world's increasing supply of nuclear weapons and national stockpiles.
Her media presence sparked in 1982, when she was featured in the Canadian Oscar-winning documentary, If You Love This Planet. Also in 1982, she founded the Women's Action for Nuclear Disarmament (WAND) in the United States, which was later renamed Women's Action for New Directions, a group dedicated to reducing or redirecting military spending towards what it perceives as unmet social issues. During her time in the United States from 1977 to 1986, Caldicott was involved with Physicians for Social Responsibility (founded originally in 1961), an organization of 23,000 doctors committed to educating others on nuclear dangers. She also worked abroad to establish similar groups that focused on education about nuclear power, nuclear weapons and nuclear war. One such international group (International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War) was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985).
In 1995, Caldicott returned to the United States, where she lectured for the New School of Social Research on the Media, Global Politics, and the Environment. She also hosted a weekly radio show on WBAI (Pacifica) and became the Founding President of STAR (Standing for Truth About Radiation) Foundation.
Her sixth book, The New Nuclear Danger: George W. Bush's Military Industrial Complex was published in 2001. While touring with that book, she founded the Nuclear Policy Research Institute, headquartered in Washington, DC. NPRI seeks to facilitate an ongoing public education campaign in the mainstream media about what it perceives as the dangers of nuclear weapons and power programs and policies. It is led by both Caldicott and executive Director Julie R. Enszer. NPRI has attempted to create a consensus to end the nuclear age by means of public education campaigns, establishing a presence in the mainstream media, and sponsoring high-profile symposia.
A 2004 documentary film, Helen's War: Portrait of a Dissident, provides a profound insight into Dr. Caldicott's life through the eyes of her skeptical and questioning niece, filmmaker Anna Broinowski.
Caldicott current splits her time between the United States and Australia and continues to lecture widely to promote her views on nuclear weapons and power. She has been awarded 19 honorary doctoral degrees and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Nobel Laureate Linus Pauling. She was awarded the Lannan Foundation Prize for Cultural Freedom in 2003, and in 2006, the Peace Organisation of Australia presented her with the inaugural Australian Peace Prize "for her longstanding commitment to raising awareness about the medical and environmental hazards of the nuclear age." The Smithsonian Institution has named Caldicott as one of the most influential women of the 20th century.
If You Love This Planet: A Plan to Heal the Earth
by Helen Caldicott.