Health to the People
Stories of Public Health, Preventve and Lifestyle Medicine, and Medical Evangelism Training and Outreach, Loma Linda, 1905-2005
P. William Dysinger, MD, MPH
Health to the People is the story of public health developments at Loma Linda University (LLU) during its first century. Lifestyle improvement has been a central theme at Loma Linda from its beginning. This included population based lifestyle epidemiologic research (the Adventist Health Studies) and the pioneering of the concept of lifestyle change programs, both residential and community based. As a centennial capstone, in 2006, Loma Linda became the first institution in the world to receive approval from both the American Boards of Family Medicine and Preventive Medicine for specialty training in Lifestyle Medicine.
The book recounts many exciting ways God has blessed this first church operated School of Public Health. Founded in 1905, the University, initially called the College of Evangelists, began by developing health education training of "medical evangelists." In 1922, the School of Nutrition and Dietetics (SND) was established and went through twenty years of disappointment in its many efforts to get approval of the American Dietetic Association (ADA). The ADA finally recognized the benefits of plant based diets and Loma Linda was fully vindicated when its vegetarian Professor of Nutrition, Katherine Zolber, was elected president of the ADA and was given the Cypher Award, ADA's highest.
The direct predecessor of the SPH was the School of Tropical and Preventive Medicine (STPM), founded in 1948. Among other things, the STPM helped LLU initiate externally funded research (mostly in biotoxicology) and the practical training of missionary doctors, nurses and others for foreign service. In 1964, the University governing board authorized combining the Department of Preventive Medicine in the medical school, the STPM and the SND into a fully accredited SPH which began in 1967. It pioneered off-campus teaching of public health degrees in the USA and overseas, combined MD or DDS/MPH degrees, and many other unique and innovative teaching efforts that emphasize "health to the people."
Bill Dysinger grew up in Tennessee where he finished premed at Southern Adventist University. He studied medicine at Loma Linda University in Southern California, interned at Washington Adventist Hospital in Maryland, and subsequently completed post-graduate education in public health at Harvard University. His career included service to the native Americans in Montana and Arizona, diplomatic service with the U. S. State Department in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 28 years of teaching andadministration at Loma Linda University where he helped Dr. Mervyn G. Hardinge found the School of Public Health (SPH). He continues appointments there as emeritus associate dean, SPH and emeritus professor of preventive medicine in the School of Medicine. He has otherwise worked for the California Department of Rehabilitation and for the Jerry L. Pettis Memorial Veterans Hospital in Loma Linda. He retired after five years as the first physician at headquarters for the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA).
His work and in his subsequent retirement, he has traveled many times around the world, visiting more than 160 countries and has been personally involved in teaching or program administration in at least 60 of the poorest and most needy countries around the globe. He has authored 4 books and contributed chapters to several others, plus numerous scientific and lay articles.
Dysinger married Yvonne M. Minchin in 1958. They have three sons and one daughter, Edwin, Wayne, John and Janelle who have given them 15 grandchildren and one great grandson (2006). Three of their four children live near them in Tennessee and are involved in many efforts to serve the needy both in Middle Tennessee and abroad. Second son, Wayne, enjoys his work as chairman of the Department of Preventive Medicine in the School of Medicine at Loma Linda where his wife works nearby as a midwife. Since retirement in 1992 at age 65, Bill has enjoyed living and working on their farm in Middle Tennessee, keeping involved in local church and community health projects, writing and continuing service to the needy around the world.