Robert Graham, MD, Receives National Honor from American Academy of Family Physicians

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


ORLANDO, Fla. — Robert Graham, MD, director of the Aligning Forces for Quality Program at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and professor of family medicine at the University of Cincinnati, today was awarded the 2011 John G. Walsh Award by the American Academy of Family Physicians at its annual meeting here.

Established in 1973, the John G. Walsh Award is one of the highest honors bestowed by the AAFP. Designed to recognize long-term commitment, rather than any single significant contribution, the Walsh Award is given on the basis of dedicated, effective leadership toward furthering the development of family medicine. The Walsh Award is not an annual award, but is given at the discretion of the AAFP Board of Directors. The late Dr. John Walsh, for whom the award is named, devoted his career to family medicine. He distinguished himself by becoming the first individual ever to hold the presidency of three major family medicine organizations: the AAFP, the American Board of Family Medicine and the Family Health Foundation of America, now the AAFP Foundation.

Graham served as the executive vice president/chief executive officer of the AAFP from 1985 to 2000, the head of the AAFP Foundation from 1988 to 1997, and the administrative officer of the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine from 1973 to 1975.

In July 1997, the AAFP Board of Directors approved the development of a Center for Policy Studies in Family Practice and Primary Care in Washington, D.C. It was envisioned that the Center would be responsible for research and analysis to inform deliberations of the AAFP in its public policy work and to provide a family medicine perspective to policy deliberations in Washington, D.C. In 2000, the Center was renamed The Robert Graham Center for Policy Studies in Family Medicine and Primary Care, in honor of Graham who had envisioned the formation of the Center nearly a decade earlier.

To further honor Graham for his many contributions to family medicine, the AAFP created the Robert Graham Family Physician Executive Award. This award recognizes an outstanding family physician for his or her role as a physician executive and is reserved for AAFP members whose executive skills in health care organizations have contributed to excellence in the provision of high quality health care, and demonstrated that family physicians can have an impact on improving the overall health of the nation.

“Dr. Graham helped the AAFP enhance its federal advocacy agenda, recognize the importance of fostering executive leadership by family physicians throughout our health care system, and advance the AAFP’s health services research. In the spirit of full dedication to the AAFP and our specialty as exhibited by Dr. Walsh, I can think of no one more deserving of this high honor and recognition," said Douglas Henley, M.D., AAFP Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer.

In addition to his activities in family medicine, Graham has held a number of leadership positions in the federal health sector, including the position of Administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration from 1981 to 1985, during which time he held the rank of Rear Admiral in the Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service and served as an Assistant Surgeon General. He also served in senior positions at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality from 2001 to 2004, the Health Resources Administration from 1976 to 1979, and the Health Services and Mental Health Administration from 1970 to 1973. From 1979 to 1980, he served as a staff member of the U.S. Senate Sub-committee on Health.

Throughout his career, Graham has spoken extensively and written about a number of critical topics in health policy, such as health care reform and the need for universal coverage, federal health workforce policy, and the organizational characteristics of effective health systems. Graham’s contributions and expertise in health policy have been recognized by his election to the National Academy of Sciences and Institute of Medicine, and by his selection as board chair of the bipartisan Alliance for Health Reform. His current areas of interest are leadership development, organizational change and universal coverage for health insurance.

Graham, a native of Kansas, is a graduate of Earlham College, Richmond, Ind. and the University of Kansas School of Medicine in Kansas City, Kan. He is married to Dr. Jane Henney.

# # #

Founded in 1947, the American Academy of Family Physicians represents 134,600 physicians and medical students nationwide, and it is the only medical society devoted solely to primary care.

Family physicians conduct approximately one in five of the total medical office visits in the United States per year – more than any other specialty. Family physicians provide comprehensive, evidence-based, and cost-effective care dedicated to improving the health of patients, families and communities. Family medicine’s cornerstone is an ongoing and personal patient-physician relationship where the family physician serves as the hub of each patient’s integrated care team. More Americans depend on family physicians than on any other medical specialty.

To learn more about the AAFP and family medicine, visit Follow us on Twitter,( and like us on Facebook. For information about health care, health conditions and wellness, visit the AAFP’s award-winning consumer website,