Dr. H. Jack Geiger, renowned proponent of social medicine, dies at 95

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H. Jack Geiger, MD, a physician who dedicated his career to addressing the social conditions that contribute to illness, died Dec. 28 at the age of 95, The New York Times reports. 

Dr. Geiger propelled the idea of social medicine, ever passionate about treating social conditions such as poverty and discrimination that inevitably lead to sickness. He helped found Physicians for Social Responsibility and Physicians for Human Rights, two advocacy groups that shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985 and 1997, respectively. 

In the early 1950s, Dr. Geiger faced backlash after leading a 1,000-person strike against racial discrimination taking place at the University of Chicago — the American Medical Association subsequently warned medical schools of his "extracurricular activities."

He pressed on and was eventually accepted as a medical student at what is now Cleveland-based Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. As a student, he spent time in a poverty-stricken region of South Africa and worked with other physicians to incorporate the core ideas of social medicine, setting up feeding programs and vegetable gardens. In the 1960s, Dr. Geiger brought social medicine to the U.S. when he contributed to the opening of a health center in Mound Bayou, Miss., a small, Black town plagued by racism and poverty. The center combined medical care with access to education resources and food "prescriptions," among other social services. 

Dr. Geiger earned his medical degree in 1958. He also completed internal medicine training at Boston City Hospital and epidemiology training at Boston-based Harvard School of Public Health. 

To read more about Dr. Geiger, click here. 

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