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Director's Biography

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John Ruffin, Ph.D.

Dr. John Ruffin is the Director of the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD). He oversees the NIMHD budget of approximately $276 million. In addition, he provides leadership for the minority health and health disparities research activities of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) which constitutes an annual budget of approximately $2.8 billion.

He is a well-respected leader and visionary in the field of minority health and health disparities. As an academician and a scientist, he has devoted his professional career to improving the health status of racial and ethnic minorities and other underserved populations. He has an impressive track record of developing and supporting programs to increase the cadre of minority scientists, physicians, and other health professionals, as well as attract a diverse group of researchers to the health disparities field. His success has been due in large part to his ability to motivate others, and his expertise in strategic planning, administration, and the development of numerous collaborative partnerships. He has led the transformation of the NIH minority health and health disparities research agenda from a programmatic concept to an institutional reality with the transition of the administratively-established NIH Office of Minority Programs to the legislative creation of the Office of Research on Minority Health, the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities, and now the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities.

As the NIH federal official for minority health disparities research, Dr. Ruffin has planned and brought to fruition the largest biomedical research program in the nation aimed at efforts to eliminate health disparities. The hallmark of his approach is to foster and expand strategic partnerships in throughout the federal government, state agencies, community organizations, academic institutions, the private sector, as well as international governments and non-governmental organizations. Under his leadership, the NIH convened the first “Science of Eliminating Health Disparities Summit” in December 2008 to showcase the work, progress, and challenges of the NIH and its many federal and non-federal government partners involved in minority health and health disparities research.

Dr. Ruffin has a stellar record of professional achievement including an honorary doctor of science degree from Spelman College, Tuskegee University, University of Massachusetts in Boston, North Carolina State University, Morehouse School of Medicine, Meharry Medical College, Tulane University and Dillard University. He has been recognized by various professional, non-profit, and advocacy organizations. He has also received the Martin Luther King Jr., Legacy Award for National Service, the Department of Health and Human Services’ Special Recognition Award; and the U.S. Presidential Merit Award. Dr. Ruffin received a B.S. in Biology from Dillard University, a M.S. in Biology from Atlanta University, a Ph.D. in Systematic and Developmental Biology from Kansas State University, and completed post-doctoral studies in biology at Harvard University.

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