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Former U.S. Surgeon General Julius B. Richmond, 91

CHICAGO, July 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Former U.S. Surgeon General Julius B. Richmond, MD, FAAP, a pediatrician and pioneer in child development and anti-tobacco education, died Sunday, July 27, 2008, of cancer at his home near Boston. He was 91.

Dr. Richmond served as President Carter's Assistant Secretary for Health and as U.S. Surgeon General from 1977 to 1981. As Surgeon General, Dr. Richmond reinvigorated tobacco control efforts through the release of the 1979 Surgeon General's Report presenting for the first time overwhelming scientific evidence of the multiple harmful effects of smoking. The American Academy of Pediatrics Julius B. Richmond Center of Excellence - a program dedicated to eliminating children's exposure to tobacco and secondhand smoke - is named in honor of Dr. Richmond's lifelong commitment to the health of children and families.

"Dr. Richmond was one of the giants in our field," said Renee R. Jenkins, MD, FAAP, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics. "He was a wonderful role model for pediatric leaders in the U.S. and throughout the world, and the Academy was honored that Dr. Richmond allowed us to name the AAP Richmond Center for him."

Born in Chicago in 1916, Dr. Richmond earned his medical degree from the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Chicago in 1939. After serving as a flight surgeon during World War II, he returned to the University of Illinois and rose to the rank of Professor of Pediatrics. He would later go on to leadership positions at the University of Illinois, SUNY College of Medicine and Harvard Medical School. In 1965, he established the national Head Start program to promote school readiness, a result of his pioneering work in the psychosocial development of children. He helped create the Neighborhood Health Centers as part of President Johnson's War on Poverty. As surgeon general, he issued the report "Healthy People: The Surgeon General's Report on Health Promotion and Disease Prevention," which for the first time established health goals for the nation for the next decade. This process has now been institutionalized by the U.S. Public Health Service.

"Dr. Richmond was one of the all-time greats in pediatrics, and he has been a mentor and a hero to me," said Errol Alden, MD, FAAP, executive director/CEO of the AAP. "He was one of the first to recognize that early child development is a marker of health and to establish the link between health and education. As the father of Head Start, he launched an incredibly successful program that would go on to help more than 25 million children develop the social and cognitive skills they need to succeed in school. He was an incredible man, and we will miss him terribly."

After his term as surgeon general, in 1981 Dr. Richmond returned to Harvard as the John D. MacArthur Professor of Health Policy and Director of the Division of Health Policy Research and Education. From 1987 to 1993, he served as chairperson of the steering committee of the Forum on the Future of Children and Families of the National Academy of Sciences. He received many honors for his work.

Although he officially retired in 1988, Dr. Richmond continued to teach, write and mentor students and colleagues. He served as an expert witness in several historic class-action litigations against the tobacco industry and served as founding chair of the Medical Advisory Board of the Flight Attendant Medical Research Institute (FAMRI). FAMRI, a not-for-profit medical research foundation, was established as a result of a class action suit brought against the tobacco industry on behalf of flight attendants exposed to secondhand tobacco smoke in airline cabins. The AAP and FAMRI joined together in 2006 to dedicate the AAP Julius B. Richmond Center in recognition of Dr. Richmond's contributions to health promotion and disease prevention.

"Dr. Richmond was a pioneer in pediatrics and public health, and was one of the earliest and steadiest voices about the harms of second-hand tobacco and the need to protect children and youth," said Jonathan D. Klein, MD, MPH, FAAP, founding director of the Richmond Center. "In addition to making a positive impact on the health and well-being of children, he was an inspiring mentor to many generations of pediatricians, and we will miss his voice and enthusiasm very much."

The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 60,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. Learn more at HYPERLINK ""

SOURCE American Academy of Pediatrics
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