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Catherine Thomasson Becomes Executive Director of Physicians for Social Responsibility

January 4, 2012

Mary Dillon Kerwin | 202-587-5231

Washington, DC - January 4, 2012 – Dr. Catherine Thomasson, an Oregon physician and leading advocate on health-related impacts on nuclear weapons and climate change, became executive director of Physicians for Social Responsibility on January 1, 2012. As a former national board president and Oregon chapter president, Dr. Thomasson embodies the role of physician advocate, a long-standing tradition within the 50-year old organization. She was selected to pursue PSR’s core issues of nuclear disarmament and environmental degradation, and at the same time, to shape PSR’s future. She succeeds Dr. Peter Wilk who returns to clinical practice in Maine after three years leading PSR.

“I am excited about starting in this new role. We have the most important mission in the world and I am ready to advance that mission,” said Dr. Thomasson. “As a practicing physician, I know I can only treat one patient at a time. PSR gives me the framework for taking on issues that have wide-ranging impact on the public’s health overall.”

Dr. Thomasson taught climate change and public health at Portland State University and served on local and state-wide commissions to find solutions to climate change. She has been a strong advocate for the health issues within Portland’s Climate Change City Plan and in the campaign to close Oregon’s only coal-burning power plant. She also worked with the Oregon Medical Association to advocate for chemical toxins reform nationally and on specific chemical issues at the state legislature. Dr. Thomasson most recently practiced medicine in the Oregon University Student Health system and was a staff physician and educator at Oregon State University.

“The selection of Dr. Thomasson was easy. She brings everything we need in an executive director: passion, experience and credibility,” said John Rachow, MD, head of the search committee and immediate past board president. “Because our issues span the globe and touch every corner of our communities, we needed someone who could be engaged at every level, and someone who could inspire our network of members and chapters.”

PSR’s strategy for achieving its mission is to educate and activate the medical and broader health community, and the public, through research, analysis, collaboration, and targeted communications and to advocate. “Catherine’s expertise on our issues and her track record in mobilizing health professionals made her the perfect choice,” said Andrew S. Kanter, MD, MPH, president of Physicians for Social Responsibility. “We expect great progress under her leadership.” A full profile for Catherine Thomasson is available here.

Physicians for Social Responsibility is the largest physician-led organization in the country conveying both the health risks and threats to human survival posed by nuclear weapons, climate change, nuclear reactors and toxic degradation of the environment. Founded in 1961 by physicians concerned about the impact of nuclear proliferation, PSR shared the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize with International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War for building public pressure to end the nuclear arms race. For more information, go to

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