Jesse Leonard Steinfeld, the 11th Surgeon General of the United States, has died of complications from a stroke. He was 87 years old.
Steinfeld was born in 1928. He grew up near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. After high school, Steinfeld attended the University of Pittsburg. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree. He then received his medical degree from Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. He completed his internship at Cedars of Lebanon in Los Angeles, California. He did his residency with the Veteran’s Administration at Los Angeles, and with the University of California.
Rather than practice private medicine, Steinfeld almost immediately started as a university professor. His first teaching job was at the University of California. He then moved on to teach at the National Institute of Health. At the same time, he taught at GeorgeWashingtonUniversity.
In 1968, Steinfeld became the associate director of the National Cancer Institute. He was constantly promoted until he became Surgeon General on December 18, 1969.
Under his leadership, the National Institute of Occupational Health and Safety was formed. This organization is responsible for research in preventing accidents at work. In addition, under his institute, the National Health Service Corps was formed. This organization is responsible for helping with repaying doctor’s hospital loans who serve in poor areas or helping to pay these doctors.
Steinfeld was also responsible for getting the legislature to pass the National Cancer Act of 1971. This act enabled more funds to be channeled to researchers working on cures for cancer.
During his time in office, Steinfeld took tough stands on many issues. One of them was that he had the warning label connecting cigarettes and cancer strengthened. He also took tough stands on violence in children’s programming committing lots of research money to the issue. Additionally, he helped to pass new laws banning the use of some pesticides. Finally, he helped fund research on the impacts of artificial sweeteners.
On January 30, 1973, Steinfeld resigned from office at the request of President Richard M. Nixon. He is one of two Surgeon Generals to resign from office. He always felt that his anti-tobacco stance put too much pressure on the president. President Nixon never appointed another Surgeon General and the office remained open until President Jimmy Carter took office.
He then went to work for the Mayo Institute in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he continued his own private research on cancer and taught other doctors. He eventually became the dean of the Medical School of Georgia.
Two daughters, his wife, and two grandchildren survive Steinfeld.