Benjamin Gilmer


Fresh out of medical residency, Dr. Benjamin Gilmer joined a rural North Carolina clinic only to find that its previous doctor shared his last name. Dr. Vince Gilmer was loved and respected by the community— right up until he strangled his ailing father and then returned to the clinic for a regular week of work. Vince’s eventual arrest for murder shocked his patients. How could their beloved doctor be capable of such violence? The deeper Benjamin looked into Vince’s case, the more he became obsessed with discovering what had pushed a good man toward darkness.

Sentenced to life in prison, Vince had been branded a cold-blooded killer and a “malingerer”—a person who fakes an illness. But when Benjamin visited Vince in prison, it was obvious that Vince needed help. Alongside This American Life journalist Sarah Koenig, Benjamin resolved to understand what had happened to his predecessor. Time and again, the pair came up against a prison system that cared little about the mental health of its inmates—despite more than a third of them suffering from mental illness.

The Other Dr. Gilmer takes readers on a riveting and heart-wrenching journey through our shared human fallibility, made worse by a prison system that is failing our most vulnerable citizens. With deep compassion and an even deeper sense of justice, Dr. Benjamin Gilmer asks us to answer a profound question: In a country with the highest incarceration rates in the world, what would it look like if we prioritized healing rather than punishment?


Dr. Benjamin Gilmer is a family physician and Associate Professor at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine and Mountain Area Health Education Center’s (MAHEC) Family Medicine Residency Program. He is an international Albert Schweitzer Fellow and attended Davidson College followed by medical studies at the Sorbonne in Paris, France and East Carolina University. As the Medical Director for MAHEC’s Rural Health Initiative and Rural Fellowship, he is passionate about advocating for global and rural health disparities. He has worked extensively in Central and South America and West Africa. Benjamin is committed to advancing medical education, point of care ultrasound, interprofessional collaboration, and inspiring students to pursue rural health.

His advocacy work currently focuses on bringing media attention to the social injustice of mass incarceration. His upcoming book The Other Dr. Gilmer (Ballantine/Penguin Random House) and feature film project (Concordia Films) both highlight the injustice of mass incarceration of people with mental illness. Both projects are based on a 2013 This American Life podcast (Dr. Gilmer and Mr. Hyde), a collaboration between Benjamin and Sarah Koenig (“Serial”) which has had more than 10 million listeners. A former neurobiologist turned rural family doctor, Dr. Gilmer has lectured across the country about medical ethics, global and rural health, bias in medicine, and the intersection of medicine and social justice. He lives with his wife, Deirdre, two children, Kai and Luya, and their dog Prince Peanut Butter in Asheville, North Carolina.

Photo: (c) Cappy Phalen


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