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AMA Immediate Past President Ron Davis Loses Battle With Cancer, Leaves Enduring AMA and Public Health Legacy

CHICAGO, Nov. 7 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Medical Association (AMA) announced today that Immediate Past President and public health leader Ronald M. Davis, M.D., 52, died Thursday at his home outside East Lansing, Michigan. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last February.

Dr. Davis, a preventive medicine physician, served as the 162nd president of the AMA from June 2007 to June 2008. He led the AMA's focus on preventive medicine and had been a longtime public health and anti-tobacco advocate. Dr. Davis also pushed the AMA to focus more on its "healthy lifestyles" platform, doing so with presentations around the nation that included informative and even humorous observations about a general lack of fitness, unhealthy eating, and tobacco use in this country.

"The health care community has lost an extraordinary leader. To his fellow physicians and the patients they serve, Ron's legacy as a public health advocate will not be forgotten," said AMA President Nancy Nielsen, M.D., who succeeded Dr. Davis at the end of his presidential term last June. "My thoughts and prayers, as well as those of our entire AMA community, are with his wife Nadine, their sons and extended family during this difficult time."

Dr. Davis led the American Medical Association in its historic 2008 apology to African-American physicians. As co-chair of the Commission to End Health Care Disparities, he served alongside the president of the National Medical Association, the nation's largest African-American physician organization.

Not only a talented physician, Dr. Davis also had a flair for writing. He was the founding editor of Tobacco Control, and international peer-reviewed journal published by the British Medical Association and North American editor of the British Medical Journal.

Even facing a serious illness, Dr. Davis remained a relentless advocate. He used his cancer diagnosis to educate the public about patient Web sites such as and, which enable patients to communicate widely about their disease and treatment. In addition to keeping extended family and friends updated on a patient's progress, these sites allow supporters to send encouragement to the patient, building a community of support in the process.

Through his cancer treatment, he continued to work tirelessly as a leader in organized medicine. His remarks to the AMA's House of Delegates last June were most memorable as members were aware of his terminal illness. He even joked about the baldness caused by his chemotherapy. In spite of the odds against someone with a diagnosis that included such a slim chance of long-term survival, "Never take away someone's hope," Dr. Davis said. His fellow physicians agreed and cheered his courage.

Dr. Davis received many honors throughout his career, including the Surgeon General's Medallion, and most recently the American Public Health Association's 2008 Lifetime Achievement Award for his career-long fight against alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs.

Dr. Davis served three terms on the AMA Board of Trustees. He was elected to the AMA Board in 2001 and was re-elected in 2005. His first term began in 1984, when he served three years as the first resident physician member of the AMA Board. During his tenure as an AMA board member, Dr. Davis served as chair of the Board Finance and Audit Committees, AMA representative to the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organization, and AMA liaison to the Advisory Committee for Injury Prevention and Control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Dr. Davis' distinguished career as a public health official includes positions as medical director for the Michigan Department of Public Health and director of the CDC's Office on Smoking and Health. He most recently served as the director of the Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention at the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit.

Dr. Davis received his undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, then his medical degree and Master's degree in public policy studies from the University of Chicago. He completed epidemiology training and the preventive medicine residency program at the CDC.

Dr. Davis is survived by his wife, Nadine, and three sons, Jared, Evan and Connor.

SOURCE American Medical Association
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