In Memoriam: Harold J. Simon, MD, PhD

Harold J. Simon, MD, PhD

Harold J. Simon, MD, PhD

The Department of Medicine celebrates the life and mourns the passing on August 6 of Harold J. Simon, MD, PhD, professor emeritus of medicine and inaugural chief of the Division of International Health and Cross-Cultural Medicine, now the Division of Global Public Health.

An influential leader in the field of international health and health policy, Simon was a founding father of the UCSD School of Medicine. He was recruited to the school in 1966 and served as its first dean of admissions, education and student affairs.

He wove global health training into the curriculum, designing community-based and international programs for students. Among these were courses in Spanish and cross-cultural issues that were the first of their kind in the nation.

Nationally and internationally, Simon advanced global health training and cultural awareness in medicine. His many achievements included the establishment of the Division of International Health for the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. With particular concern for small, isolated countries, he advised developing nations as they established medical education and health care delivery systems.

In 2001, the Harold J. Simon Chair In International Health and Cross-Cultural Medicine was established in his honor at UCSD.

Quoted in a UCSD press release at that time, Simon said, “I think it is necessary for all students to realize that there are significant differences in disease incidence and prevalence, in the way health care is delivered, and how concepts of health and illness are viewed by diverse cultures throughout the world. Medicine doesn’t recognize any geographic or national borders.

“In a world where the inequalities of health are grotesque; where for many millions of people health is absent throughout life; where nevertheless every individual has the right to the enjoyment of health, are we as doctors content to leave things as they are?”

Dr. Steffanie StrathdeeThe Harold J. Simon Chair In International Health and Cross-Cultural Medicine is now held by Steffanie Strathdee, PhD, Associate Dean of Global Health Sciences, Harold Simon Professor and Chief of the Division of Global Public Health.

Quoted in a La Jolla Patch memorial story about Simon last week, Strathdee said, “He will be remembered by our division as its founder and tireless mentor, and by his students the world over as their inspiration to a career in global health.

“For me personally,” she said, “I have lost a treasured friend.”

More Information:

Press release: UCSD Chair in International Health and Cross-Cultural Medicine Named For Harold J. Simon, M.D., Ph.D. UCSD School of Medicine News, Health Sciences Communications press release, February 8, 2001.  |  Read the story

Video interview: Harold Simon, Founding Father at UC San Diego School of Medicine. UCSD Medical Center video posted February 2, 2012. |  Watch video

Interview: Dr. Harold Simon of La Jolla reviews his legacy in medicine at UCSD. La Jolla Light interview posted on February 28, 2012.  |  Read interview

Memorial story: Harold Simon, Founding Member of UCSD School of Medicine, Dies at 85. La Jolla Patch story, posted on August 15, 2013.  |  Read story

Memorial story: First Dean of Admissions at UCSD’s School of Medicine. San Diego Union-Tribune, posted August 18, 2013.  |  Read story