Edgar B. Jackson Jr., MD, is a nationally renowned physician, physician-leader, scholar, educator, and advocate of eliminating health care disparities among minority populations. Through his work as a private practice physician, hospital system executive, academician, and community leader, he founded, co-founded, or led several institutions, organizations, and programs that positively impacted community health care delivery.
Dr. Jackson was born in Rison, Arkansas, to Willie (Scott) and Edward Jackson Sr. He was the second oldest of five children. He said he was influenced greatly in life by his father’s work ethic and his mother’s value of education, discipline, and faith in God.
Raised in Cleveland from age thirteen, he graduated from Central Senior High School in 1952 and was a U.S. Army Specialist, 4th Class in the Medical Corps, from 1959-1961 until his honorable discharge.
Dr. Jackson received his Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry and Doctor of Medicine degrees from Case Western Reserve University. During his four years at the School of Medicine, he served as class president and graduated with honors in 1966. He is board-certified (retired) in internal medicine and certified (retired) with the Ohio State Board. He completed his internship in a newly formed mixed practicum of pediatrics/internal medicine and his residency in internal medicine at MetroHealth Medical Center of Cleveland. In his first leadership role, Dr. Jackson was chief of medicine residents at MetroHealth from 1969-1970. After that, he joined the faculty at MetroHealth, and while there, he was one of only two Carnegie Commonwealth Clinical Scholars in Cleveland. The program was developed to create national leaders who would be change agents in medicine.
Since 1970, Dr. Jackson has held several key senior and executive leadership roles at University Hospitals of Cleveland and Case Western Reserve University. Among these positions were senior instructor in medicine, assistant professor, associate clinical professor, and clinical professor of medicine. In addition, he was appointed the first assistant dean of Minority Student Affairs and served three years as assistant dean.
Dr. Jackson was appointed associate chief of staff at University Hospitals in 1991 and rose to co-chief of staff and senior vice president for clinical affairs before being appointed chief of staff in 1997. Upon his retirement from this position in 2000, he was appointed chief of staff emeritus and special assistant to the president & CEO. In addition, from 2004-2009, he served as senior advisor to the hospital’s new president.
It was during this time that he was the administrative leader in charge of creating and implementing a strategy to ensure the hospital system had a multicultural group of administrators, recruited, and retained a talented pool of minority faculty and other health care professionals, and built partnerships with the minority- and female-owned businesses in Greater Cleveland. President & CEO Tom Zenty said that under Dr. Jackson, University Hospitals made “impressive strides.”
Throughout his tenure at University Hospitals, Dr. Jackson’s positions as hospital leader and practicing physician afforded him opportunities to establish and collaborate with others to create formal and informal recruitment and mentoring programs. He is well known for the international recruitment of top minority doctors and surgeons to Northeast Ohio. While serving as associate chief of staff, Dr. Jackson led the formation of the David Satcher Clerkship, a national model for the recruitment of minority medical students at University Hospitals and served ten years as the program’s director.
The Edgar B. Jackson Jr. Endowed Chair was dedicated at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in 2004. It was the first endowed chair to honor an African American physician in the state of Ohio and the only endowed position in the nation that promotes and ensures diversity among future medical leaders.
Additionally, the first Excellence in Mentoring Award by University Hospitals’ Minority Staff Organization was presented to Dr. Jackson. From Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, he received the Outstanding Minority Alumni Award and was appointed to the board of the Medical Alumni Committee. And each year, the African American medical students present a mentoring award named in his honor at their senior banquet.
Dr. Jackson is the recipient of numerous other distinctive honors and appointments. When he was elected in 1991 to the National Academy of Medicine, the prestigious organization with global representation only had 500 members. Each year, aspiring physicians and scientists attend the Edgar B. Jackson Jr., MD/University Hospitals House at the Cleveland School of Science and Medicine at John Hay High School. Dr. Jackson was the second African American elected to the American Board of Internal Medicine’s board of governors in 1981 and served until 1987.
He received the Fairfax Renaissance Development Corporation’s Louis Stokes Visionary Award in 2006. This honor was of particular significance because the award was created in recognition of Louis Stokes, who served 30 years in the United States House of Representatives. Congressman Stokes was a close friend and longtime collaborator of Dr. Jackson in regionally and nationally advancing equal access to healthcare. The physician and legislator partnered to co-chair the Community Advisory Board of the Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED). The university’s mission is to work through education, research, and service to improve the health, economy, and quality of life of the diverse communities of Northeast Ohio. While serving as special assistant to the president of Cleveland State University (CSU), Dr. Jackson was also co-director of the NEOMED-CSU Partnership for Urban Health.
The Northeast Ohio Medical Association presents its Clinician of the Year Award to individuals judged to be the region’s best doctors. Dr. Jackson received this honor in 2002. He was also the inaugural recipient of the Health Legacy of Cleveland Award, and in 2018 he was presented the Star Award by Ohio Cancer Research. Among his many other recognitions, Dr. Jackson received the Ohio Commission on Minority Health’s Crystal Stair Award.
Dr. Jackson is a fellow of the American College of Physicians. From 1987 until his retirement in 2005, he was part of the Cleveland Physicians Inc. group practice at the University Suburban Health Center. In any given year, his practice had approximately 2500 patients.
Dr. Jackson’s community and public service include serving nine years as the health director for the City of Shaker Heights and as the medical director of an early neighborhood-based program called Movement for Improved Glenville Health Today (M.I.G.H.T.) The 2012 Northeast Ohio Neighborhood Health Services (NEON) Neighborhood Health Champion recognition and the 2017 Kujichagulia (Self-Determination) Award by the Ashbury Senior Computer Community Center speak to his commitment to community-based health and wellness programs for all.
Several programs where he has held key leadership roles have earned and sustained national attention, prominence, and impact.
As co-founder in 1997 of the University Hospitals Otis Moss Jr. Health Center, Dr. Jackson helped create a community-based facility in conjunction with Olivet Institutional Baptist Church. The innovative center focuses on at-risk individuals and offers care in a spiritually supportive environment, including family medicine and general pediatric services, social services, patient navigators, and referrals to dietitians, pharmacists, and other health care professionals. Dr. Jackson and co-founder, the Reverend Dr. Otis Moss Jr., then senior pastor, Olivet Institutional Baptist Church, began strategizing in the 1980s to build this center for health services. In 2017, University Hospitals announced the plans for an estimated $2.5 million expansion and enhancement of the facility.
Also, in 2017, the Cleveland Metropolitan School District’s Cleveland School of Science and Medicine earned a silver medal in the national U.S. News and World Report rankings. Dr. Jackson was a founding board member of the school, which was also named the 15th best public high school in Northeast Ohio.
Dr. Jackson has authored and co-authored over a dozen medical and community health articles. They range from such topics as renal hypertension, hospital screening, emergency room practices, physician influence on patient compliance, careers in medicine and clinical practice, to sickle cell anemia. For decades Dr. Jackson has sought to change physicians’ attitudes about patients with sickle cell disease. He was medical director of the American Sickle Cell Anemia Association, a member of the Ohio Department of Health’s Sickle Cell Anemia Advisory Committee, and chair of the Cleveland Academy of Medicine’s Sickle Cell Anemia Advisory Committee. Dr. Jackson has said that early on, he viewed physicians’ general lack of empathy towards sickle cell patients as akin to the healthcare profession’s general treatment of African Americans.
As principal of EBJ & Associates, LLC, Dr. Jackson leads a consulting firm that specializes in coaching and advocating for medical and administrative staff, strategic planning for cultural intelligence and inclusion, and pipeline development and programming to eliminate health disparities.
At the end of 2018, Dr. Jackson retired as special assistant to the president for Health Affairs at Cleveland State University. He continues to serve as chief of staff emeritus at University Hospitals and executive in residence at Cuyahoga Community College. Dr. Jackson’s work continues to improve patient access and expand higher education and professional opportunities for underrepresented minorities.
Dr. Jackson was married for 54 years to Thelma (Bennett) until her passing in 2011. He and Leesa J. Patterson, whom he married in 2013, are the proud parents David Patterson Jr., Devin Patterson and Laura Roufs. Three sons, Gary, David and Michael are deceased. The Jacksons have nine grandchildren.
The man who says as a child he was a “dreamer in the south” has been called a “gifted healer” by others. Edgar B. Jackson Jr. was never daunted by the challenges of his time. “When I applied to medical school,” he said, “I listed as my reason to becoming a physician, ‘eliminate the difference in health care between the poor and the rich.’ That mission continues.”