Everything about Physicians for Social Responsibility

Physicians for Social Responsibility

Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) is a non-profit organization comprised of health professionals and public health advocates, including but not exclusively led by certified physicians in the United States.

This organization works to protect the populace from various types of pan-global threats. PSR aims to eradicate environmental toxins, address climate change and restrict nuclear proliferation around the world.

Foundation of Physicians for Social Responsibility

Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) was established in 1961 in Boston, Massachusetts. It was formed by a group of physicians who became concerned about rising nuclear proliferation worldwide.

These physicians wanted to make the public aware of the dangers of storing, testing and using nuclear weapons.

The founding group of PSR consisted of Drs. Victor W. Sidel, Bernard Lown, Alexander Leaf, Sidney Alexander, H. Jack Geiger, George Saxton, Charles Magraw, Bernard Leon Winter and Robert Goldwyn.

The organization’s first report detailed the human, social, physical and environmental aspects of a nuclear war.

PSR reduced its activities in the early 1970s but did not cease operations. However, a chance meeting between an editor and a doctor about the effects of nuclear power revived the organization in 1978.

The organization then published its first ad in the New England Journal of Medicine, describing the medical implications of a nuclear war.

The ad was published the day after the Three Mile Island meltdown incident, which led to more than 500 new members joining PSR.

During the next five years, PSR recruited around 23,000 physicians as members and established around 153 chapters in the US. Dr. Helen Caldicott, a prominent PSR leader, played a key role in promoting nuclear disarmament globally and inspired the establishment of similar organizations. Still, the collective efforts of many within PSR and the broader disarmament community facilitated the creation of sister organizations worldwide.

Some nations that host PSR-like organizations include Australia, England, Scotland, Ireland, New Zealand, Japan, Scandinavia, Germany, Belgium, Canada, and Holland.

Foundation of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IIPNW)

The International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) was co-founded by representatives from PSR and Soviet physicians, reflecting a collaborative international effort beyond PSR alone. PSR’s work to thwart nuclear proliferation gained international attention. This led to the foundation of the IIPNW in 1980.

IPPNW was awarded the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize for its significant contributions to promoting nuclear disarmament, reflecting the efforts of its global membership.

This was presented to the organization “for spreading authoritative information and creating awareness of the catastrophic consequences of atomic warfare.”

What does the PSR do?

The PSR organization publishes and distributes documents and offers specialized training to dedicated members.

The organization also offers oral and written testimony to Congress. It holds media interviews and public awareness campaigns and offers professional assistance.

Physicians for Social Responsibility

Physicians for Social Responsibility – What does the PSR do?

The PSR operates through its nationwide network of e-activists, members, local and state student chapters, and national staff. This entire network works in cohesion to combat any threats to global survival.

This mainly regards the toxic decline of environmental quality, global warming, nuclear warfare and nuclear proliferation relevant threats.

The organization is improving national policy-making and decisions regarding nuclear technology and weapons.

This is achieved through collaboration between committed and credible health professionals and concerned citizen members.

PSR details the health consequences and security threats posed by nuclear weapons. It also highlights the importance of implementing innovative ways to decrease the US reliance on nuclear weapons for national security.

PSR advocates for global nuclear disarmament.

PSR also addresses concerns about global warming and the toxic degradation of the natural environment. The organization lobbies for policies to help limit global warming and generate a sustainable, clean energy future.

The organization aims to reduce air, food, and water pollution and restrict human exposure to toxic substances. Its Code Black program is working relentlessly in the US to reduce reliance on coal for generating power.

PSR has published several reports on the health impacts of coal and other environmental hazards, contributing to the public and policymakers’ understanding of these issues.

This report reviewed and summarized peer-reviewed medical literature concerning coal pollution. It offered a comprehensive view of how coal affects human health, from mining activities to combustion and disposal.

In 2008, the organization started a campaign called the Safe Energy Program to stop the construction of new nuclear power plants.

The campaign was also vital in highlighting nuclear energy’s actual cost and dangers.

The PSR also maintains the Student Physicians for Social Responsibility (SPSR). It is a network of 650 students from 39 chapters. It motivates medical students to work against nuclear proliferation.

The organization is heavily engaged in fighting environmental degradation and social issues. It motivates medical students to engage in more effective student activism.

PSR’s focus encompasses a broad spectrum of public health threats, including nuclear disarmament, environmental health, and violence prevention. These include making hospitals environment-friendly, promoting sustainable agriculture practices, and healthcare reforms.

Numerous PSR chapters are also working towards comprehensive gun violence prevention measures.


Lately, PSR has been vocal about the administration’s policies concerning climate change and nuclear weapons through op-ed articles in popular newspapers.

PSR has also persuaded numerous city and county legislators to sponsor the “Back from the Brink Campaign.” This campaign aims to reduce the risk of nuclear war through policy changes.

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Current Version
February 1, 2022
Written By
Shubham Grover
March 27, 2024
Updated By
Andrea Morales G.

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