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In Memoriam: Dr. Victor W. Sidel, PSR Founding Member

Dr. Sidel has inspired so many of us in our work for peace, social justice, and health equity. Click here to read PSR members’ tributes to Dr. Sidel.

Victor W. Sidel, MD, a visionary medical leader and founding member of Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR), died on January 30, 2018 in Greenwood Village, Colorado. Dr. Sidel’s 60 years of advocacy invigorated the American medical and public health communities for the cause of peace and nuclear disarmament.

Dr. Sidel founded PSR in 1961 after meeting Dr. Bernard Lown, a cardiologist at Harvard University. He inspired physicians and health professionals to take responsibility to prevent nuclear war. In a 2013 interview with Social Medicine, Dr. Sidel said, “I want to prevent the wounds, not simply treat them.” Dr. Sidel contributed to a series of articles on the medical consequences of nuclear war that were published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1962. These articles spurred the formation of PSR chapters across the country.

Drs. Jack Geiger, Victor Sidel, and Sidney Alexander at the 1985 Nobel Prize ceremony

Later, Dr. Sidel became a co-president of PSR’s global affiliate, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), recipient of the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize for achieving the Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. Dr. Sidel also served as president of the American Public Health Association (APHA) during the height of the nuclear freeze movement. When Dr. Sidel was APHA president, he established precedent by calling the prevention of nuclear war a public health priority during the APHA annual meeting.

Dr. Sidel was the author of numerous books and articles about the human consequences of war, international health, and the impact of poverty and deprivation on health and well-being. He was coeditor with Dr. Barry Levy of War and Public Health, Terrorism and Public Health, and Social Injustice and Public Health, all published by Oxford University Press.

Dr. Sidel was chair of the Department of Social Medicine at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, New York from 1969-1985. He then became Distinguished University Professor of Social Medicine at Montefiore and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Graveside services will be held at Temple Ohabei Shalom Cemetery, 147 Wordsworth Street, East Boston, Massachusetts on February 4, 2018 at 11:30 a.m.

In lieu of flowers, remembrances may be made to Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) or to International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW).