Public health’s most prestigious honor, the Frank A. Calderone Prize, was awarded to Dr. H. Jack Geiger, a founding faculty member of the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education at The City College of New York. Administered by Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health, Dean Linda P. Fried presented the award at a ceremony held on October 28 at the Paley Center for Media in Manhattan. The Calderone Prize has been awarded to public health luminaries since 1992.
Dr. Geiger, The Arthur C. Logan Professor of Community Medicine Emeritus at Sophie Davis, designed the community health center model in the United States. Illustrating the direct relationship between poverty and poor health, Dr. Geiger built a national network that provides high-quality health care to 23 million people at more than 1,200 centers around the country. Although the first two community health centers were in the Mississippi Delta and in Boston, Dr. Geiger’s work brought him as far as South Africa, the West Bank, and Yugoslavia during times of political strife, demonstrating that population health would always lag among groups who struggle for freedom.
Dr. Geiger is also a founding member and past president of Physicians for Social Responsibility and Physicians for Human Rights.
At the award ceremony, Dr. Geiger delivered an original lecture entitled, “The Political Future of Public Health in a Time of Demographic Change” arguing that public health must enter the political arena equipped with activist tools from recent history: “Our task is to aggressively use all the ways we can find to tell the public the facts we know about the causes and processes that link poverty and health and, in multiple ways, damage our society.”