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November 2, 2010

Professor Emeritus H. Jack Geiger Receives Schweitzer Prize

 Jack Geiger
Dr. H. Jack Geiger, a founding faculty member of the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education at CCNY, received the Albert Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarianism. 

Honored for ‘Five Decades of Extending Fundamental Health Services’ and Leading Through Example

Dr. H. Jack Geiger, a founding faculty member of the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education at The City College of New York, who has focused his career on health, poverty and human rights, has been awarded the Albert Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarianism. He was honored at a dinner during The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship (ASF) Conference, held October 16 in Baltimore, M.D.

A co-founder and past president of Physicians for Human Rights and Physicians for Social Responsibility, Dr. Geiger is Arthur C. Logan Professor Emeritus of Community Medicine at Sophie Davis. He joined the school in 1978 as founding chair of the Department of Community Health and Social Medicine and continued in that role until his retirement in 1996. CCNY awarded him the honorary degree Doctor of Humane Letters at its 2010 Commencement.

“Dr. Geiger has spent the past five decades extending fundamental health services to millions of low-income patients, bringing professionals from numerous health disciplines together to advance civil and human rights, and inspiring others to follow in his footsteps by his powerful example,” said Dr. Lachlan Forrow, president of ASF. “He brilliantly exemplifies Dr. Albert Schweitzer’s mantra that ‘example is not the main thing; it is the only thing.’”

The Schweitzer Prize was established in 1986 by Dr. h.c. Alfred Toepfer of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation to advance the cause of humanitarianism in the United States through recognition of extraordinary achievement. It is named for Dr. Schweitzer, a Franco-German physician and philosopher best known for an eponymous hospital and research center he established in what is now Gabon, a republic in west-central Africa.

Past Schweitzer Prize recipients include Presidents Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush, U.S. Surgeons General Dr. David Satcher and Dr. C. Everett Koop, and media mogul Ted Turner.

In the late 1960s, Dr. Geiger initiated the community health center model in the United States, which combined community-oriented primary care, public health interventions, and civil rights and community empowerment and development initiatives. From two clinics he established in Boston’s Columbia Point District and the Mississippi Delta, thus grew a national health center network of more than 1,100 urban, rural, and migrant centers serving approximately 20 million low-income patients.

Professor Geiger is a founding member (1961) and past president of Physicians for Social Responsibility, the U.S. affiliate of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, which received the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1985. He is also a founding member (1986) and past president of Physicians for Human Rights, which shared in the 1998 Nobel Peace Prize.

A member of the Institute of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences, Dr. Geiger also received the Institute’s Gustav O. Lienhard Award and the American Public Health Association's Sedgewick Memorial Medal for Distinguished Service in Public Health.
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