Sherman A. James
Susan B. King Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Public Policy

Sherman A. James is the Susan B. King Emeritus Professor of Public Policy at the Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University. He also held professorships in Sociology, Community and Family Medicine, and African and African American Studies at Duke. Prior to Duke, he taught in the epidemiology departments at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (1973-89) and at the University of Michigan (1989-03). At Michigan, he was the John P. Kirscht Collegiate Professor of Public Health, the Founding Director of the Center for Research on Ethnicity, Culture and Health (CRECH), Chair of the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, and a Senior Research Scientist in the Survey Research Center at the Institute for Social Research.

James' research focuses on the social determinants of racial and ethnic disparities in health and health care. He is the originator of the John Henryism Hypothesis which posits that repetitive high-effort coping with difficult social and economic stressors is a major contributor to racial and socioeconomic disparities in hypertension and related cardiovascular diseases.

James was elected to the National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine) of the National Academy of Sciences in 2000. In 2001, he received the Abraham Lilienfeld Award from the Epidemiology section of the American Public Health Association for career excellence in the teaching of epidemiology. In 2016, he received the Wade Hampton Frost Award, also from the Epidemiology Section of the American Public Health Association for outstanding contributions to the field of epidemiology. He is a fellow of the American Epidemiological Society, the American College of Epidemiology, the American Heart Association, and the Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research. In 2016, he was inducted into the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences as the Mahatma Gandhi Fellow. In 2007-08, he served as president of the Society for Epidemiologic Research (SER). Also, in 2008, he was awarded a Health Policy Investigator Award from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. A social epidemiologist, James received his PhD (Psychology) from Washington University in St. Louis (1973),and in 2008, he was named a Distinguished Alumnus of Washington University.

Current Research Interests

Socioeconomic, cultural and psychological determinants of US racial and social class health disparities.

Current Appointments & Affiliations

Contact Information

  • 203 Sanford Building, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708
  • Box 90245, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708-0245
  • uri icon Sherman James CV

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