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David M. Murray, Ph.D.

Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the National Institutes of Health, appointed David M. Murray, Ph.D., as Associate Director for Prevention and Director of the Office of Disease Prevention on July 2, 2012. Dr. Murray joined NIH on September 23, 2012.

Dr. Murray completed his B.A. in Psychology from Denison University in 1973. He completed his Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in 1978. In 1981, he completed a National Heart Lung and Blood Institute funded post-doctoral fellowship in Cardiovascular Health Behavior in the Laboratory of Physiological Hygiene, a division of the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota. He joined the faculty of the Laboratory immediately after his fellowship. The Laboratory was founded by Ancel Keys and was the home of Henry Taylor, Henry Blackburn and other pioneers in cardiovascular epidemiology.

Dr. Murray began his work in prevention research during his postdoctoral fellowship at Minnesota, working closely with C. Anderson Johnson and Russell V. Luepker on the Robbinsdale Anti-Smoking Project, and later on several follow-up studies funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and by the National Cancer Institute. After he joined the faculty in the Laboratory of Physiological Hygiene in 1981, he expanded into prevention research on alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs in adolescent populations, working closely with Cheryl Perry. Those projects were funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

At about the same time, he became involved in the Minnesota Heart Health Program (MHHP), serving initially as Co-Youth Education Director with Cheryl Perry, then as Associate Health Program Director with Maury Mittelmark, and later as Health Program Director and Co-Principal Investigator with Henry Blackburn, Russell Luepker, David Jacobs, Neil Bracht and the other MHHP investigators. At the time, the Minnesota Heart Health Program was the largest NIH grant ever awarded to the University of Minnesota. It was one of three community-based heart disease prevention programs funded by the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute in the 1980s and early 1990s and helped create the basis for the community-based health promotion and disease prevention programs we see today.

Many other studies developed out of the Minnesota Heart Health program, including the Promotion of Health Eating Patterns in Youth (Cheryl Perry, PI), Children’s Activity Trial for Cardiovascular Health (Cheryl Perry, PI), Models for Treating High Blood Cholesterol (Russell Luepker, PI). All were funded by the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute.

Most of these studies were examples of group-randomized trials. In these studies, identifiable social groups are the unit of assignment, while members of those groups are the units of observations. The design and analytic issues inherent in these studies were not well understood in the 1980s and 1990s, though Jerome Cornfield’s classic paper, Randomization by Group: A Formal Analysis, was published in 1978. Dr. Murray became increasingly interested in these issues, collaborating with Peter Hannan and others at Minnesota, and learning from pioneers in this area including Allan Donner.

Dr. Murray’s first interaction with the Office of Disease Prevention occurred in 1992, when the Office sponsored a meeting of methodologists from survey research, educational statistics, biostatistics, and epidemiology for the first NIH conference on the design and analysis of group-randomized trials. Dr. Murray coordinated that meeting, which was convened under the auspices of Dr. William Harlan, the first Associate Director for Prevention and Director of the Office of Disease Prevention.

Dr. Murray continued to work on group-randomized trials, and to investigate their design and analytic issues, through the 1990s. In 1998, he published the first textbook on this material.

Dr. Murray left the University of Minnesota in 1998 to become the first Lillian and Morrie Moss Chair of Excellence in Psychology at the University of Memphis. In 2005, he moved to Ohio State University as the Chair of the Division of Epidemiology in the College of Public Health. He continued to work on group-randomized trials, and on the methods for their design and analysis, throughout his time at Memphis and at Ohio State.

Over the past 34 years, Dr. Murray has worked on more than 50 health promotion and disease prevention research projects funded by NIH and other agencies. He has served on more than 40 grant review panels for NIH as the first Chair of the Community Level Health Promotion study section. He has published more than 230 articles in the peer-reviewed literature.

Dr. Murray has a passion for prevention research done well and believes that we can best advance the nation’s health by ensuring that prevention programs are based on good science, that they are carefully designed and evaluated, that effective interventions are disseminated, and that ineffective interventions are identified and discarded. This view is entirely consistent with the mission of the Office of Disease Prevention, which is to work with the ICs and other partners to provide leadership and direction for the development, refinement, implementation, and coordination of a trans-NIH plan to increase the scope, support, and impact of NIH disease prevention and health promotion research.

During his first six months as Associate Director for Prevention and as Director of the Office of Disease Prevention, Dr. Murray will lead a strategic planning effort to develop specific plans to address this mission.

Recent Methodological Papers

Rhoda, D. Murray, D.M., Pennell, M.L., Hade, E.M. Studies with staggered starts: multiple baseline designs and group-randomized trials. American Journal of Public Health, 2011, 101(11), 2164-2169.

Pennell, M., Hade, E., Murray, D.M., Rhoda, D. Cutoff designs for community-based intervention studies. Statistics in Medicine, 2011, 30(15), 1865-1882. PMC3127461.

Pals, S.L., Wiegand, R.E., Murray, D.M., Ignoring the group in group-level HIV/AIDS intervention trials: a review of reported design and analytic methods. AIDS, 2011, 25, 989-996.

Murray, D.M., Pennell, M., Rhoda, D., Hade, E.M., Paskett, E.D. Designing studies that would address the multilayered nature of health care. Journal of the National Cancer Institute Monographs, 2010, 2010(40), 90-96.

Pals, S.L., Murray, D.M., Alfano, C.M., Shadish, W.R., Hannan, P.J., MStat, Baker, W.L. Individually randomized group treatment trials: a critical appraisal of frequently used design and analytic approaches. American Journal of Public Health, 2008, 98(8), 1418-1424. PMC2446464.

Murray, D.M., Pals, S.L., Blitstein J.L., Alfano, C., Lehman, J. Design and analysis of group- randomized trials in cancer: a review of current practices. Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 2008, 100(7), 483-491.

Murray, D.M., Blitstein, J.L., Hannan, P.J., Baker, W.L, Lytle, L.A. Sizing a trial to alter the trajectory of health behaviors: methods, parameter estimates, and their application. Statistics in Medicine, 2007, 26(11), 2297-2316.

Murray, D.M., Van Horn, M.L., Hawkins, J.D., Arthur, M.W. Analysis strategies for a community trial to reduce adolescent ATOD use: A comparison of random coefficient and ANOVA/ANCOVA models. Contemporary Clinical Trials, 2006, 27(2), 188-206.

Murray, D.M., Hannan, P.J., Varnell, S.P., McCowen, R.G., Baker, W.L., Blitstein, J.L. A comparison of permutation and mixed-model regression methods for the analysis of simulated data in the context of a group-randomized trial. Statistics in Medicine, 2006, 25(3), 375-388.

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David M. Murray, Ph.D.
Associate Director for Prevention and
Director of the Office of Disease Prevention


Dr. David M. Murray's Vita (PDF-312KB)
NIH Press Release
Article in the NIH Record