The contributions of Ronald Davis, MD to our collective efforts to decrease the deadly toll of tobacco were countless and his spirit and drive were motivators for all those fortunate enough to have known him. Dr. Davis lost his battle with pancreatic cancer on November 6, 2008.
Dr. Davis was a preventive medicine physician and epidemiologist who served the tobacco control community in numerous ways, including as Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Office on Smoking and Health; as chief medical officer of the Michigan Department of Public Health; most recently in the private sector at the Henry Ford Health System and as a public health advocate through his work as President of the American Medical Association. His chief public health research interest was tobacco control, specifically the areas of tobacco control policy, including advertising and promotion, strategies to reduce exposure to environmental tobacco smoke, and activities of the tobacco industry. In addition, treatment of tobacco dependence was an important part of his research and clinical practice.
Dr. Davis served as an advisor and mentor on many CHCR projects, including the Center of Excellence in Cancer Communications Research grant.
Since 1995, Dr. Davis had served as Director of the Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention at the Henry Ford Health System (headquartered in Detroit). He chaired the Residency Advisory Committee for the preventive medicine residency program at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, where he was an adjunct professor of epidemiology. He was the Immediate Past President of the American Medical Association (AMA), holding the office from June 2007 to June 2008, and recently served as Senior Science Editor of National Cancer Institute’s Monograph 19 – The Role of the Media in Promoting and Reducing Tobacco Use.
Prior to his term as President of the AMA, Dr. Davis was elected to the AMA Board of Trustees (BOT) in June 2001 and re-elected in June 2005, having previously served as the first resident physician member of the AMA-BOT (1984–1987). Dr. Davis represented the AMA on the board of commissioners of the Joint Commission from 2002 to 2006.
Dr. Davis was board-certified in preventive medicine. Following his training, Dr. Davis was director of the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health (1987–1991) before serving as chief medical officer in the Michigan Department of Public Health (1991–1995).
Dr. Davis received many honors, including the Surgeon General’s Medallion, the American Public Health Association’s Jay S. Drotman Memorial Award, the American College of Preventive Medicine’s Distinguished Service Award, the World Health Organization’s World No-Tobacco Day medal and award, the Society for Research on Nicotine & Tobacco’s John Slade Award, and the American Thoracic Society’s Distinguished Service Award. He was also the founding editor (1992–1998) of Tobacco Control, an international peer-reviewed journal published by the British Medical Association, and was North American editor of the British Medical Journal (1998–2001).
He will be greatly missed but lives on in all of his achievements and his work on behalf of so many.