Peter G. Bourne, M.A., M.D.
Dr. Peter Bourne is Visiting Scholar at Green College, Oxford University and Vice Chancellor Emeritus of St. George's University in Grenada, West Indies. He was formerly Special Assistant to the President of the United States for Health Issues.
He also chairs Medical Education Cooperation with Cuba (MEDICC). Dr. Bourne has had a career as a clinician and researcher, senior government official, international civil servant, diplomat and author.
He was born in Oxford, England where he received his early education in the Dragon School. He obtained his medical degree from Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia in 1962 and his masters degree in anthropology from Stanford University in 1969 also completing a residency in psychiatry at the same institution.
He served as a Captain in the US army assigned to the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR). He served for one year in Vietnam as head of the Army's psychiatric research team, where he was awarded the Bronze Star, the Air Medal and the Combat Medics Badge.
Early in his career he was a member of the faculty of Emory University medical school as an assistant professor of psychiatry and of preventive medicine and community health. In that capacity, as well as teaching, he directed a program to rehabilitate arrested alcoholics in the city jail and subsequently directed the first community mental health center in the State of Georgia. In 1971 he was appointed director of the Georgia Narcotic Treatment Program, a state agency providing statewide drug abuse treatment services.
As Assistant to the President for Health Issues in the Carter White House, he lead the fight to get the administration's national health insurance plan through the Congress. He simultaneously held the job of Director of the Office of Drug Abuse Policy (ODAP), the position generally referred to as "drug czar," where he was responsible for coordinating the law enforcement, treatment and foreign policy aspects of America's drug policy. He also established for the president national commissions on world hunger and malnutrition and mental illness. He served as the official emissary of the president in negotiations with the heads of state or government of several nations and represented the U.S. government on the governing bodies of several UN organizations including UNDP, WHO, UNICEF and the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs.
As an Assistant Secretary General at the United Nations, he established and ran the "International Drinking Water Decade" that provided clean drinking water to 500 million people worldwide. In that capacity he launched the global campaign to eradicate the disease caused by guinea worm: a program now nearing total success. After leaving the UN for the private sector, he was a partner in Tropica Development Ltd, a company devoted to the creation of business enterprises in Third World countries, especially Africa. He served as consultant to and on the boards of several non-profit organizations including Save the Children, Health and Development International, Global Water, The Hunger Project and the American Association for World Health. He was an advisor on foreign policy to US Congressman Bill Richardson and in that capacity he negotiated a variety of agreements with foreign governments, including Iraq, Bangladesh, Cuba, Iran and North Korea. Dr. Bourne has had professional experience in more than fifty countries and has a wide-ranging network of relationships with heads of state and government, ministers, and prominent figures in the private sector around the world.
In 1995 he directed a year-long foundation-supported study of the impact of the US embargo on Cuba resulting in a report "Denial of Food and Medicine: The Impact of the US Embargo on Health and Nutrition in Cuba," that had a significant impact in altering attitudes towards the embargo. He now chairs the board of Medical Education Cooperation with Cuba (MEDICC), an organization involving more than 100 US medical schools and schools of public health that in the last five years has sent over five hundred students to Cuba for electives as part of their academic programmes.
He established his reputation as a biographer with his books, "Fidel: A Biography of Fidel Castro" (Dodd, Mead, 1986) and "Jimmy Carter: A Comprehensive Biography from Plains to Post Presidency" (Simon and Schuster/Scribner, 1996), both of which received strongly positive reviews in the New York Times book review. He is the author of more than one hundred published articles and book chapters and has written or edited nine books. Prior to taking over St. George's University, he had held faculty positions at Stanford, Emory, Harvard, and the University of California, San Diego.
As Vice Chancellor of St. George's University, he established a new school of veterinary medicine, created a program in public health (giving an MPH), started a multidisciplinary Institute for Caribbean and International Studies, created, in collaboration with the University of Plymouth in the UK, a new marine biology program, and began major outreach efforts through the School of Arts and Sciences to try to meet Caribbean educational needs. He has been actively involved in economic and political issues relating to the Caribbean and worked closely with the Commonwealth Institute and the Caribbean Council for Europe. While Vice Chancellor, he was instrumental in establishing the Shell Cricket Academy, considered a key to the future success of the West Indies cricket team, at the university.
Dr. Bourne is currently working on a book and a film on the Cuban healthcare system. He currently resides in Washington, D.C. and Tregaron, Wales.