Hunter Doherty “Patch” Adams (born May 28, 1945) is an American physician, comedian, social activist, clown, and author. He founded the Gesundheit! Institute in 1971. Each year he organizes a group of volunteers from around the world to travel to various countries where they dress as clowns in an effort to bring humor to orphans, patients, and other people.
After graduating in 1963 from Wakefield High School, Adams completed pre-med coursework at George Washington University. He began medical school without an undergraduate degree, and earned his Doctor of Medicine degree at Virginia Commonwealth University (Medical College of Virginia) in 1971. In the late 1960s one of his closest friends (a man, not a woman as depicted in the Patch Adams film) was murdered. Convinced of the powerful connection between environment and wellness, he believes the health of an individual cannot be separated from the health of the family, community, and the world. While working in an adolescent clinic at MCV, in his final year of med school, he met Linda Edquist, a fellow VCU student who volunteered in the clinic. Soon after graduation, Patch, Linda, and friends founded the Gesundheit! Institute (originally known to many as the Zanies), which ran as a free community hospital for 12 years.
Dr. Adams has pioneered a new model of medicine which embraces a humane and holistic approach and eliminates our dysfunctional and profit based system.
Read more about his activism for peace and happiness through alternative medicine here: http://www.patchadams.org/patch-adams/
Here is an inspiring talk he gives at a Ted Talks conference.