2008: James S. Marks, MD, MPH

James S. Marks, Senior Vice President of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF)

The 20th J. Warren Perry Lecturer was James S. Marks, MD, MPH Marks is senior vice president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), the country’s largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health care of Americans.  The foundation supports programs and projects that address childhood obesity, public health, health insurance coverage and quality and equality of health care.

Marks is a physician with a distinguished record of leadership in government public health.  Born in Buffalo, NY, Marks’ mother was an art teacher and his father was a “country doctor” who later worked in occupational medicine.  Marks received his MD from the State University of New York at Buffalo, trained as a pediatrician at the University of California at San Francisco and was a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar at Yale University, where he received his MPH.  Marks was an assistant surgeon general and the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.  Throughout his decade-long tenure at the CDC, he developed and advanced systematic ways to prevent and detect diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes; reduce tobacco use; and address the nation’s growing epidemic of obesity.

Marks has received numerous federal, state, and private awards, including the US Public Health Service Distinguished Service Award, the Surgeon General’s Award for Distinguished Service, the Association of State and Territorial Chronic Disease Directors’ Award for Excellence, the American Cancer Society’s Distinguished Service Award, and National Arthritis Foundation’s Special Award of Appreciation. In 2004, he was elected as a member of the Institute of Medicine and he is vice chair of the board of directors of C-Change, whose members are the nation’s key cancer leaders from government, business, and nonprofit sectors. 

A national leader in public health over the last 25 years, Marks has served on more than 75 committees devoted to advancing the medical sciences, health care and public health.  He has published extensively in the areas of maternal and child health, health promotion and chronic disease prevention, and has served on many government and nonprofit boards and committees devoted to improving the public’s health.