John A. Rich, MD, MPH, project lead of the Men’s Health Initiative in Boston, was named one of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s 25 new MacArthur Fellows for 2006.
Dr. Rich is a physician, scholar, and a leader in addressing the health care needs of one of the nation’s most ignored and underserved populations — African-American men in urban settings. By linking economic health, mental health, and educational and employment opportunities to physical well-being, Rich’s work on black men’s health is influencing policy discussions and health practice throughout the United States.
He has created clinical programs that promote health by addressing overall wellness, recognizing that young, urban men of color face especially difficult challenges in accessing health care. Taking an original approach to social epidemiology, he conducts in-depth personal interviews with young black men to understand and underscore the contextual details attending prevalent illnesses and the cycle of violence that creates recurrent injury risk.
Among his many interventions, Rich established the Young Men’s Health Clinic at the Boston Medical Center, which provides primary care to men ages seventeen to twenty-nine, many of whom are victims of urban violence. He also initiated the Boston HealthCREW, a community health-worker training program for young black men to conduct peer outreach in general health education and men’s reproductive health. By focusing on the realities of the lives of young African-American men, Rich designs new models of health care that stretch across the boundaries of public health, education, social service, and justice systems to engage young men in caring for themselves and their peers.
As a MacArthur Fellow, Dr. Rich joins a highly respected group of leaders working across a broad spectrum of endeavors including a developmental biologist, sculptor, country doctor, jazz violinist, and a deep-sea explorer. MacArthur Fellowships come without stipulations or reporting requirements, offering the opportunity for Fellows to accelerate their current activities or take their work in new directions. The unusual level of independence afforded to Fellows underscores the spirit of freedom intrinsic to creative endeavors.