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Michael McGinnis



Michael McGinnis, MD, MPP, is a global health policy leader and public health champion who has been a resolute proponent of amplifying nursing’s voice. Dr. McGinnis is a renowned physician and epidemiologist who holds appointments at the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) as Senior Scholar, Leonard D. Schaeffer Executive Officer, and Executive Director of the NAM Leadership Consortium. Previously, Dr. McGinnis served as Senior Vice President and Founding head of the Health Group at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). Before that, he held appointments as Assistant Surgeon General and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health at the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), holding continuous policy leadership responsibility beginning in the late 1970s and lasting nearly twenty years into the mid-1990s, over significant federal activities in disease prevention and health promotion.

Among the notable programs initiated and implemented at his behest are, at HHS, the Healthy People national goals and objectives process, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, and the Ten Essential Services of Public Health. During his time at RWJF, Dr. McGinnis spearheaded the Health & Society Scholars Program, the Young Epidemiology Scholars Program, and the Active Living by Design Program. Under his leadership at NAM, the Learning Health System Initiative and the COVID-19 Emerging Stronger Initiative, were launched. Most of the programs and initiatives he started and led, remain prominent elements of national policy today.

Internationally, Dr. McGinnis served in Uttar Pradesh, India as State Director for the World Health Organization’s smallpox eradication program and in Bosnia as the Chair of the World Bank/European Commission Task Force for reconstruction in health and human services. His research driven approach, collaboration, and actions have directly led to the voice of nursing being central in advancing health policy. Dr. McGinnis has long recognized the critical importance of nursing in health outcomes and has established many partnerships throughout his career to ensure that the profession is well represented in national discussions impacting health care.

Dr. McGinnis holds a bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley, a MD and MA from UCLA Medical School, and an MPP from Harvard University, Kennedy School of Government. His scientific interests have focused on population health and the basic determinants of health status of individuals and populations, authoring approximately 200 articles and over 20 edited books. Dr. McGinnis is known for transforming the national view of leading health threats through his seminal publication in the Journal of American Medical Association, “The Actual Causes of Death in the United States,” which shed light on the true root causes of morbidity and mortality. National recognitions include the Public Health Distinguished Service Award, Health Leader of the Year Award, Public Health Hero Award, and the Fries Prize for Contributions to Health Improvement. Dr. McGinnis is an elected member of NAM, a Fellow of the American College of Epidemiology, and Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

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