skip over navigation

Dr. H. Jack Geiger

H. Jack Geiger, M.D., M.Sci. Hyg. (Epidemiology), Sc.D. (hon.) is the Arthur C. Logan Professor Emeritus of Community Medicine, City University of New York Medical School; a founding member and Past President of Physicians for Human Rights, which shared in the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1998; a founding member and Past President of Physicians for Social Responsibility, the U.S. affiliate of Internation Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, which received the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1985; and a founding member and Past President of the Committee for Health in Southern Africa.

He received his M.D. degree from Western Reserve University School of Medicine in 1958 and trained in internal medicine on the Harvard Service of Boston City Hospital from 1958-64. During this period he also earned a degree in epidemiology from the Harvard School of Public Health, and was a Research Fellow, Research Training Program in Social Science and Medicine, Harvard University. Before assuming the Logan Professorship at CUNY Medical School in 1978, he was chairman of the Department of Community Medicine at Tufts University Medical School (1968-71), Visiting Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School (1972-73), and Chairman of the Department of Community Medicine, School of Medicine, State University of New York at Stonybrook (1973-78). In 1983-84 he was Senior Fellow in Health Policy at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford, California

Most of his professional career has been devoted to the problems of health, poverty and human rights. He initiated the community health center model in the U.S., combining community-oriented primary care, public health interventions, and civil rights and community empowerment and development initiatives, and was a leader in the development of the national health center network of more than 900 urban, rural and migrant centers currently serving some twelve million low-income patients. From 1965-71 he was director of the first urban and first rural health centers in the U.S., at Columbia Point, Boston, and Mound Bayou, Mississippi.

In 1993, he was elected to Senior Membership in the Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, and in 1998 he received the IOM's Gustav O. Lienhard Award for “creating a model of the comtemporary community health center to serve the poor and disadvantaged and for contributions to the advancement of minority health.” In 1998 he was also awarded the American Public Health Association's Sedgewick Memorial Medal for Distinguished Service in Public Health.

Dr. Geiger's work in human rights spans more than six decades. He was a founding member of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) in 1943 and was Civil Liberties Chairman of the American Veterans Committee from 1947-51, leading campaigns to end racial discrimination in hospital care and admission to medical schools. In the 1960s he was a founding member and National Program Chairman of the Medical Committee for Human Rights (MCHR), Field Coordinator of its 1964 Mississippi program to protect and provide medical care for civil rights workers, and an organizer of MCHR medical care for the Selma to Montgomery march in Alabama. He served as Chairman of the Health Committee of the Delta Ministry of the National Council of Churches, and consultant to the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and the Student Health Organization. In the 1970s he was a founding member of the Emergency Committee to Save Chilean Health Workers.

He is a founding member (1986) and Past President of Physicians for Human Rights, a national organization of health professionals whose goals are to bring the skills of the medical profession to the investigation and documentation of human rights abuses, violations of medical neutrality, war crimes and crimes against humanity, and to provide medical and humanitarian aid to victims of repression. He served as expert medical consultant on the United Nations Human Rights Center's mission to former Yugoslavia (1992), and led PHR human rights missions to Bosnia (1993), Iraq and Kurdistan (1991), the West Bank and Gaza Strip (1988, 1990, 2002) and has helped to plan many other PHR missions to Central and south America, Asia, and the former Soviet Union. Most recently, his work has focused on racial and ethnic disparities in health carein the USA and abroad. He contributed an extensive review of the evidence to the Institute of Medicine's landmark study on “unequal treatment” (2001) and served as co-principal investigator for a subsequent PHR report on “The Right to Equal Treatment: An Action Plan to End Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Clinical Diagnosis and Treatment in the United States,” (2003) and published an annotated bibliography of more than 800 peer-reviewed studies on racial/ethnic disparities in care.

He is a founding member and immediate Past President of the Committee for Health in Southern Africa (CHISA) and wa a member of the AAAS-Institute of Medicine Mission to South Africa on the Health Effects of Apartheid (1989). He was an organizer of the Conference on Health Care for Post-Apartheid South Africa in Maputo, Mozambique in 1990, and was Mary Weston Trust Distinguished Visiting Professor, University of Natal Faculty of Medicine, Duran, South Africa (1995), which he first attended as a visiting medical student in 1957 to study and work at the Pholela and Lamontville Health Centers with Drs. Sidney and Emily Kark. Following liberation, he has served as a consultant to SOuth Africa's Ministry of Health, the Health Systems Trust, the Progressive Primary Health Care Network, and the School of Public Health at the University of the Western Cape. In 1997 he was a member of the AAAS-PHR-CHISA consultative mission to South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission to examine authors of the mission's report, “Human rights and Health: The Legacy of Apartheid.” He was an NGO delegate to the United Nations Conference on Racism and Discrimination, in Durban in 2000.

Dr. Geiger was a founding member of Physicians for Social Responsibility in 1961 and was a co-author of the first major publication in the U.S. on the medical consequences of nuclear war (N Engl J Med, 1962). During the past three decades he has published more than 25 scientific articles and book chapters on medical and biological effects of nuclear weapons, lectured widely on this subject in the U.S. and Europe, and appeared in “the Last Epidemic” and other documentary films. He led a PSR delegation to the Soviet Union to explore the health consequences of the Chernobyl nuclear accident in 1986. From 1988-92 he chaired the PSR/Physicians' Task Force on the Health Hazards of Nuclear Weapons Production and co-directed a critical review of the U.S. Department of Energy's epidemiological studies of the nuclear weapons plant workforce, published as a monograph, Dead Reckoning, in 1992. From 193-94 he was a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Three Mile Island Public Health Fund. He received the Award of Merit in Global Public Health, Public Health Association of New York, in 1982.

He is the author or co-author of more than 100 scientific articles, book chapters and monographs on topics including community-oriented primary care, health care and poverty, community health centers, medical education, the health and environmental consequences of nuclear war and nuclear weapons production, and the role of physicians in the protection of human rights. He has served as a contributing editor to the American Journal of Public Health; a member of the editorial boards of the Journal of Health and Human Rights and the Journal of Medicine and Global Survival, and served on the national Advisory Council, National Health Service Corps; the National Advisory Committee on Energy-Related Epidemiological Research of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Boards of Directors of National Medical Fellowships, Physicians for Human Rights, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and CHISA.

For his work on the problems of health care, human rights, and poverty, Dr. Geiger was awarded honorary degrees of Doctor of Science by the State University of New York at Purchase (1992) and by Case Western Reserve University (2000); the Award for Academic Leadership in Primary Care, National Center for Primary Care, Morehouse School of Medicine (2003); the Founder's Award, National Medical Fellowships (2003); the first Distinguished Alumnus Award of Merit, Harvard School of Public Health (1992); the Robert H. Felix Distinguished Service Award of St. Louis University School of Medicine (1986); the Distinguished Service Award, Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers (1986); the Distinguished Public Service Award, National Association of Community Health Centers (1981); the National Health Achievement Award in Community Medicine, Blue Cross and Blue Shield Associations of North America (1979) and the first Award for Excellence of the American Public Health Association for “exceptionally meritorious achievement in improving the health of the American people.” (1973).