Ferguson, Tom 1943-2006

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FERGUSON, Tom 1943-2006


See index for CA sketch: Born July 8, 1943, in Ross, CA; died of multiple myeloma, April 14, 2006, in Little Rock, AR. Physician and author. An advocate of empowering patients to educate themselves about their own health, Ferguson was well-known for publishing the journal Medical Self Care and the newsletter The Ferguson Report. Initially interested in writing, he attended Oregon's Reed College and then earned an M.F.A. in creative writing from San Francisco State University in 1973. While in San Francisco, he was also the curator of the Exploratorium museum from 1971 to 1973. Interested in medicine—he had been a community health worker for the Volunteers in Service to America in Florida during the mid-1960s—he then decided to become a doctor. Ferguson earned an M.D. from the Yale University School of Medicine in 1978, but he never had a private practice or worked for a hospital. Instead, he was interested in educating the average person about medicine and their bodies. He thus combined his writing skills and medical knowledge to serve as health and medical editor of the Whole Earth Catalog, edited his Medical Self Care from 1975 to 1989, and founded The Ferguson Report: The Newsletter of Consumer Health Informatics and Online Health in 1998. He also cowrote many self-help books on health, such as What You Need to Know about Psychiatric Drugs (1992), The Get-Well-Quick Kit (1993), and The Aspirin Handbook: A User's Guide to the Breakthrough Drug of the '90s (1993). As the Internet became more popular and grew to contain a plethora of medical information, Ferguson endorsed its use for average people to learn more about their health. To help guide them, he wrote his Health Online: How to Find Health Information, Support Groups, and Self-Help Communities in Cyberspace (1996). In later years, Ferguson worked with universities and organizations as a researcher and educator. He was an adjunct associate professor at the University of Texas Health Science Center and an adjunct faculty member at the University of Arkansas Medical Sciences Center. In addition, he was a senior associate at the Center for Clinical Computing and a senior research fellow for the Pew Internet and American Life Project. Suffering from multiple myeloma, he researched the disease and learned that once-controversial drug thalidomide might help. His use of the drug, some felt, extended his life much longer than the average sufferer of this fatal disease.



New York Times, April 24, 2006, p. B7.

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Ferguson, Tom 1943-2006

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