H. Jack Geiger
|“||The last time I checked my textbooks the specific therapy for malnutrition was, in fact, food.||”|
—Dr. Jack Geiger, 1965
H. Jack Geiger, MD, MSciHyg, is a founding member and past president of Physicians for Human Rights, a founding member and past president of Physicians for Social Responsibility, a founding member and past president of the Committee for Health in South Africa, and a founding member and national program coordinator of the Medical Committee for Human Rights.
Geiger has led or participated in human rights missions for PHR, the United Nations, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science to former Yugoslavia, Iraq and Kurdistan, the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and South Africa. Most of his professional career has been focused on the related issues of health, poverty, and civil rights. Geiger initiated the community health center model in the United States, founding and directing the nation's first two community health centers, in the Mississippi Delta and in Columbia Point, Boston. These centers became models for what is now a national network of more than 1100 CHCs serving some 20 million low-income and minority patients.
Geiger is a member of the Institute of Medicine, United States National Academy of Sciences, and the recipient of the IOM's highest honor, the Lienhardt Award for "outstanding contributions to minority health." In recognition of his work on racial and ethnic discrimination in health care, the Congressional Black, Hispanic and Asian American Caucuses have created the H. Jack Geiger Congressional Fellowships on Health Disparities for young minority scholars.
Geiger began his career as a science journalist, where he was active in efforts to use science primarily in the service of human needs. Geiger received his M.D. degree from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in 1958.  He then 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.
Relationship with actor Canada Lee
Canada Lee met and was an influence on H. Jack Geiger, founder of Physicians for Social Responsibility. They met in 1940, when Geiger, a 14-year-old middle-class Jewish runaway, was backstage at a Broadway production of Native Son. Lee agreed to take Geiger in when he showed up at his door in Harlem asking for a place to stay. Geiger stayed with Lee for over a year (with the consent of Geiger's parents), and Lee took on the role of surrogate father. During his time with Lee, Geiger was introduced to people like Langston Hughes, Billy Strayhorn, Richard Wright, and Adam Clayton Powell. After many years of varied experiences and an on-going friendship with Lee, Geiger eventually became a journalist, then a doctor.
This event was recorded in an interview given by Jack Geiger on This American Life.
- Lewenstein, Bruce V. (1987). 'Public Understanding of Science' in America, 1945-1965. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Pennsylvania, p. 234