Jessie Gruman, 60, CFAH Founder and President
Jessie Gruman, founder and president of the Center for Advancing Health since 1992, died July 14. She was 60.
Gruman advocated for policies and practices based on her own experiences of treatment for five cancer diagnoses, interviews with patients and caregivers, surveys and peer-reviewed research. She had five cancers, starting with Hodgkin’s lymphoma at age 20, followed by cancers of the cervix, colon, and stomach. At 59, she received the diagnosis of metastatic lung cancer.
She was the author of AfterShock: What to Do When the Doctor Gives You – or Someone You Love – a Devastating Diagnosis; Slow Leaks: Missed Opportunities to Encourage Our Engagement in Our Health Care; A Year of Living Sickishly: A Patient Reflects; The Experience of the American Patient: Risk, Trust and Choice; Behavior Matters; as well as scientific papers, opinion essays and articles.
“The Center has lost a brilliant colleague,” said M. Chris Gibbons, chair of the board of trustees of the Center for Advancing Health. “Those of us who have been fortunate enough to know and work with Jessie have lost a dear friend.”
“Jessie was a tireless advocate for patients. For the past ten years, Jessie focused her efforts and the efforts of CFAH on advancing patient engagement as well as helping people find and benefit from good health care,” he said. “We will deeply miss her powerful and inspiring voice for patients, families and caregivers.”
Gruman was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Council on Foreign Relations and was a fellow of the New York Academy of Medicine and the Society for Behavioral Medicine.
She received honorary doctorates from Brown University, Carnegie Mellon University, Clark University, Georgetown University, New York University, Northeastern University, Salve Regina University, Syracuse University and Tulane University, and the Presidential Medal of the George Washington University.
She was also honored by Research!America, the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship, and the Society for Behavioral Medicine, which in 2014 created the Jessie Gruman Award for Health Engagement to recognize annually an individual who has made a pivotal contribution to research, practice or policy in the field of health engagement.
Gruman received a B.A. from Vassar College and a Ph.D. in Social Psychology from Columbia University and was a professorial lecturer in the School of Public Health and Health Services at the George Washington University.
Gruman worked at NCI, the American Cancer Society and AT&T.
Memorial services will be held in October in New York and Washington, D.C. CFAH has been collecting published tributes to Gruman on its Prepared Patient Blog, to which she often contributed.
Jesse Leonard Steinfeld, 87, Former U.S. Surgeon General
Jesse Leonard Steinfeld, U.S. surgeon general from 1969 to 1973, died Aug. 5, at the age of 87.
He had served as deputy director of NCI and deputy assistant secretary for Health and Scientific Affairs before being appointed surgeon general by President Richard Nixon.
Steinfeld began his tenure as surgeon general at a time when smoking was starting to become a major issue of public health. The first definitive, causal link between smoking and lung cancer was reported in 1964 in the landmark publication of the Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health, issued by his predecessor Luther Terry, which received widespread media coverage and marked the beginning of a significant shift in public attitudes about smoking.
Cigarette packs began carrying caution labels in 1965, alerting consumers that “cigarette smoking may be hazardous to your health.” In 1970, while Steinfeld was acting surgeon general, the labels began to carry a bolder warning: “The surgeon general has determined that cigarette smoking is dangerous to your health.”
Voicing his concerns over studies that found women were less likely than men to quit smoking, Steinfeld spoke out against the tobacco industry’s marketing toward women, and led a campaign to warn them that smoking is harmful not only to their own health, but that of their children and unborn fetuses. Additionally, he stressed the negative effects smoking had on one’s appearance, such as wrinkles and poor teeth.
Steinfeld graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 1945, 19 months after finishing high school at the age of 16. He received his medical degree from what is now Case Western Reserve University, in 1949, at the age of 22. Steinfeld completed an internship at what is now Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles and residencies at the Veterans Affairs Hospital in Long Beach, California, and the Laboratory of Experimental Oncology at the University of California, San Francisco Hospital.
Steinfeld had also served on the faculties of UCSF; George Washington University School of Medicine; and the University of Southern California School of Medicine. He also served as physician aboard a Coast Guard ship in the North Atlantic during the Korean War.
Steinfeld also served as president of the American Society of Clinical Oncology from 1970 to 1971.
According to ASCO, before Nixon’s January 1971 State of the Union address, Steinfeld suggested that the budget of the NCI be increased from $200 million to $300 million. In December 1971, Nixon signed the National Cancer Act.
Steinfeld offered his resignation as surgeon general in 1972 and stepped down from the position at the end of January 1973.
He was an antitobacco crusader—and was named the “worst surgeon general ever” by the tobacco industry, according to the American Association for Cancer Research. He had been a member of the AACR since 1956.
In an interview years later, he said he felt he was not able to keep his position because of his antismoking work. The surgeon general’s office was not filled again until President Jimmy Carter appointed Julius Richmond in 1977.
He went on to serve as director of the Mayo Clinic Comprehensive Cancer Center and professor of medicine at the Mayo Medical School; professor of medicine at the University of California, Irvine and chief of medicine at the Veterans Affairs Hospital in Long Beach; dean and professor of medicine at the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond; and president of the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta, a position he held until he retired in 1987.
He is survived by his wife, three daughters, and two grandchildren.