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Dr. James S. Withers

Physician, innovator, and 2015 Top 10 CNN Hero Dr. Jim Withers is an Assistant Clinical Professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. The Pennsylvania native received his undergraduate degree at Haverford College and completed his medical school training at the University of Pittsburgh in 1984.

In 1992, he decided to dress as a homeless person and joined a formerly homeless man to visit the street dwellers of Pittsburgh making “house calls” at night. This led to the founding of Operation Safety Net (OSN), the first full-time, comprehensive medical service of its kind for the unsheltered homeless. Medical care is delivered directly on the streets, along the riverbanks, and in the abandoned buildings of Pittsburgh, with full social service and housing follow-up. OSN has been recognized internationally and is being replicated or studied by cities throughout the world.

In 2005, Dr. Withers established the annual International Street Medicine Symposium (with current partners in North America, South and Central America, Europe, Australia, Africa, and Asia) to foster collaboration in the care of those sleeping on the streets. In 2009, he created the Street Medicine Institute to help communities develop similar programs.

Dr. Withers is most proud of the many students he inspired to go on to careers in service-oriented medicine.