About Dr. H. Jack Geiger and Dr. Count Gibson
Named after Drs. H. Jack Geiger and Count Gibson, the Geiger Gibson program commemorates their vision for a program with an enduring health equity foundation.
Dr. H. Jack Geiger was a pioneer of the community health center movement in the United States. In his fourth year of medical school, Geiger received a scholarship from the Rockefeller Foundation to study the community health center movement in South Africa’s homelands. Impressed by the seminal role that health centers sought to play – combining high-quality primary care with the use of clinical medicine as an entry point into projects and activities aimed at addressing the broader conditions of health – Geiger sought to replicate the model in the U.S. Through tireless efforts to achieve his vision, Geiger secured initial funding from the Office of Economic Opportunity, which supported the nation’s first health center -- the Columbia Point Health Center, which to this day serves one of Boston’s poorest and most isolated communities. From there, community health centers opened in Mississippi’s most impoverished rural delta region and in high-need urban and rural communities across the nation, where health and health care inequalities were at their worst. In 1975, Congress established community health centers as a program of the Public Health Service Act; in 2010, community health centers were granted permanent legislative authority.
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H. Jack Geiger, M.D., M.Sci. Hyg. (Epidemiology), Sc.D. (hon.) was 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 International 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.
Geiger 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 was 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 modern community health center network. From 1965-71 he served as 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 contemporary 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 spanned 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 served as 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 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 care in 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 was a founding member and immediate Past President of the Committee for Health in Southern Africa (CHISA) and was 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, which appeared in the 1962 New England Journal of Medicine. Over several decades, he 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.
Dr. Geiger authored or co-authored 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 served as a contributing editor to the American Journal of Public Health; as 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).
Jack Geiger died on December 27th, 2021.
Dr. Count Gibson was a social justice activist and pioneer of early health centers. At the beginning of Geiger’s search for community health center funding, Gibson was the Professor and Chair of the Tufts University Department of Preventive Medicine. He was instrumental in convincing Tufts University to sponsor community health centers. Additionally, Gibson proved to be a vital asset in fundraising efforts. Being born and raised in the deep south, Gibson knew how to successfully pitch community-based health programs to southern conservative lawmakers. Gibson worked to bring community health centers to rural areas, such as the Mississippi Delta and the San Joaquin Valley. Gibson’s career in health care spanned across many facets, from serving as a delegate to the White House to being one of the first physicians to speak out against the Tuskegee study.
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Count Dillon Gibson, Jr., Professor Emeritus of Health Research and Policy, was born in Covington, Georgia, on July 10, 1921, to Count Dillon Gibson, Sr. and Julia Thompson Gibson, and moved to Atlanta in 1933 when his father became Professor of Geology at Georgia Institute of Technology. Count never forgot his childhood in a small southern town, which instilled in him a lifelong commitment to civil rights and social justice.
Count received a BS degree from Emory University in 1942, and two years later received his MD from Emory. After a year's internship at the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City, he joined the US Army Medical Corps and rose to the rank of Captain and Chief of Laboratory Service in the 110th Station Hospital in Vienna, Austria. After completing his military service in 1947, Count returned to Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center to complete his residency in Internal Medicine and an additional year as Chief Medical Resident. There he met his future wife, Katherine Vislocky, who was the daughter of the pastor of Saint Mary's Ruthenian Greek Catholic Church in Manhattan. Soon after their marriage in 1950, he joined the Byzantine Rite, to which he maintained a steadfast devotion throughout his life.
After completion of his medical training, Count joined the faculty of the Medical College of Virginia in 1951. His research focused on the treatment of infection using the newly developed antibiotics, including sulfonamide, penicillin and erythromycin. In 1958, he moved to Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts as Professor and Chair of the Department of Preventive Medicine. It was there that he came to believe that the future of primary health care lay in Neighborhood Health Centers run by health care consumers in the community. He served as the Director of the pioneering Columbia Point Health Center in Boston, Massachusetts from 1965 to 1969. Senator Edward Kennedy was inspired by the example of Columbia Point to sponsor federal legislation to support the development of Neighborhood Health Centers. Count was also instrumental in the development of a number of neighborhood health centers in rural areas, such as the Mississippi Delta and in Livingston, California in the San Joaquin Valley.
Count was recruited to Stanford University in 1969 as Chairman of the Department of Family, Community and Preventive Medicine, forerunner to the present Department of Health Research and Policy. At Stanford, he merged his lifelong interests in language, culture and religion with his scientific training into a holistic vision of health in which an individual's health is intimately related to his or her social and cultural environment.
At a practical level, Count realized that interdisciplinary research teams were essential to assess health in a social context. He brought together clinicians, economists, sociologists, statisticians and epidemiologists to address problems in health and medical care. In 1972, he and Professor Nicholas Baloff of the Graduate School of Business organized the Interdepartmental Program in Health Services Administration, which later evolved into the present Interdisciplinary Program in Health Services Research. In 1978, Count organized the Division of Family Medicine in collaboration with Professor William Fowkes. Count was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown to the California Health Manpower Commission, where he provided leadership in developing and funding training programs throughout the state for family practice residents, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners.
Count also served on the Board of Directors of several local public service organizations, including Lytton Gardens, Hayward Vesper Hospital, and the Drew Health Foundation. Gibson's commitment to consumers' rights in the provision of health care was allied to his interest in and sensitivity toward all kinds of human difference. He was engaged in the civil rights movement, and took part in the 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. He was a delegate to the White House Conferences on Health (1965) and on Civil Rights (1966), and he served on many other state and national healthcare-related committees. In California in the 1970s, he actively supported the cause of the farm workers who had united under the leadership of Cesar Chavez. Their principles of non-violent resistance to injustice and the use of consumer boycotts to bring about social change were fully in accord with his own vision of the moral obligation of the individual to strive for social justice. When a group of Native Americans occupied Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay to protest their disenfranchisement by mainstream America, Count was one of the few non-Native Americans they welcomed onto the island. Count was also an early advocate of the rights of the mentally and physically disabled.
Count had a great passion for foreign languages, and learned Russian, German, Latin, French, Spanish, Italian, Dutch and American Sign Language. In 1946, he observed the Nuremberg trials and witnessed one of the earliest uses of simultaneous translation. When as a clinician he treated patients who were not English speaking, Count realized that the technique of simultaneous translation could be adapted to the hospital setting. He worked to apply to medicine the concept of remote simultaneous translation, in which the interpreter is linked to the patient and doctor through a telephone line, with each hearing only his or her own language. He was actively engaged in evaluating the use of remote simultaneous translation at the time of his death.
Count retired from the Stanford faculty in 1991 and remained active until 1999, when he and his wife moved to West Hartford, Connecticut. There he was active as Chair of the Health and Wellness Committee, and as a member of the local Byzantine Catholic Church.
Count Gibson passed at age 81 on July 23, 2002. He is survived by his daughter, Gabriella and her three sons, Tom, Max and Sam of Gillingham, England; his son, Thomas and his wife, Ruhi Maker, and their two sons, Taimur and Amir of Rochester, New York; his son, Aleksey, of Washington, DC; and his son, George, and his wife, Zoe Strickler, and their daughter, Chloe, of Willington, Connecticut. His death has deprived us of a wise and generous colleague who for many years provided a gracious model of all that is good in medical research and clinical practice.
From the Stanford Report, October 29, 2003