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Judianne Densen-Gerber

BMJ 2003; 326 doi: (Published 29 May 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;326:1216

A successful innovator in drug rehabilitation who was accused of financial irregularities

Judianne Densen-Gerber was nothing if not controversial. To many, she was a successful innovator in drug rehabilitation, a woman with powerful friends and media clout who brought hope, funding, and rehabilitation to drug users who had been written off as “garbage.” To others she was a manipulative, dictatorial, mercurial woman who sometimes mixed up her accounts, taking public funds for her private use.

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Densen-Gerber was the daughter of an heiress and a chemical engineer. She first qualified as a lawyer, graduating from Columbia University Law School, before qualifying in medicine at New York University Medical School in 1963. She was doing a residency at psychiatry at Metropolitan Hospital in New York when, in 1966, she encountered her life's work in the form of 17 drug users.

“She was pregnant and female, and they gave her an easy assignment dealing with drug addicts. They told her they don't get well anyway,” said Ronald Brown, a former user who was rehabilitated through …

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