Gordon H. DeFriese, Ph.D.

defrieseGordon H. DeFriese, Ph.D. was the director of the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research from 1973-2000

In 1971, Dr. DeFriese was appointed as Assistant Professor and Co-Director of the graduate program in medical sociology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Two years later, in 1973, he was appointed Director of the UNC Health Services Research Center, currently named the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research, a position he held until October of 2000. Dr. DeFriese held appointments as Professor of Social Medicine and Professor of Medicine (in the Division of General Medicine and Clinical Epidemiology) at the UNC-CH School of Medicine; Professor of Epidemiology and Health Policy and Administration in the UNC-CH School of Public Health; and Professor of Dental Ecology in the UNC-CH School of Dentistry. From 1986-2000 he served as Co-Director of the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program co-sponsored by the UNC-CH School of Medicine and the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research. From 1996-99 he served as the founding director of the UNC Institute on Aging.

His research interests have included studies in the areas of medical sociology, primary health care, rural health services, health services utilization behavior, child health services, dental care, medical technology assessment, medical self-care, health and aging, long-term care, health status measurement, cost-effectiveness and cost-benefit analysis, medical specialization, and health promotion/disease prevention.

Dr. DeFriese has been involved with a large number of national and international organizations and initiatives:

  • Dr. DeFriese is a Past President and Distinguished Fellow of the Association for Health Services Research (now AcademyHealth).
  • From 1983-96, he was the Editor (and now Editor Emeritus) of the journal, Health Services Research published by the Health Research and Educational Trust, the official journal of the Association for Health Services Research (AcademyHealth),
  • He is a former member of the Health Services Research Study Section of the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research.
  • He is a Fellow of the New York Academy of Medicine and a Member of the Institute of Medicine, National Academies.
  • He is a Fellow of the Gerontological Society of America.
  • In 1990, he helped found a new national organization, Partnership for Prevention, a coalition of private sector business and industry organizations, voluntary health organizations and state and federal public health agencies based in Washington, D.C., who have joined together to work toward health prevention.
  • From 1994-2005, Dr. DeFriese served as the President and CEO of the North Carolina Institute of Medicine, a private non-profit organization of lay and professional leaders chartered by the North Carolina General Assembly to study the health needs and opportunities of the people of North Carolina.
  • From 1999 to 2007, he was a member-at-large of the National Board of Medical Examiners.
  • From 2002-2006, Dr. DeFriese served as Editor-in-Chief of the North Carolina Medical Journal, which became the responsibility of the N.C. Institute of Medicine, published jointly with The Duke Endowment.
  • In 2004, Dr. DeFriese was appointed as a member of the Advisory Board on Health Disparities of the New York Academy of Medicine.
  • From 2004-2009 he was the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Center for Health Improvement, a non-profit, national policy organization working in the field of preventive health services located in Sacramento, California.
  • From 2007-2009 Dr. DeFriese was a member of the Health Advisory Board of the Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute in Jerusalem, Israel.
  • He has been an adviser to the Israeli Ministry of Health with regard to the Healthy Israel 2020 initiative.
  • He was a member of the first U.S. Preventive Services Task Force appointed by the U.S. Assistant Secretary for Health.
  • Dr. DeFriese was a member of the Advisory Council on Education for Health of the Center for Corporate Public Involvement (of the American Council on Life Insurance and the Health Insurance Association of America),
  • He was a member of the National Board of Directors of Wellness Councils of America.
  • He served as a member of the Board of Directors of the National Center for Health Education.
  • Dr. DeFriese has served as a member of the Global Advisory Group on Health Systems Research of the World Health Organization in Geneva and the Board of Scientific Advisors to the Center for Urban Epidemiologic Studies of the New York Academy of Medicine.
  • He served as the U.S. representative on the Advisory Committee on Health Research of the Pan American Health Organization and as Chairman of the PAHO-ACHR Subcommittee on Health Services and Systems Research.

Dr. DeFriese retired from UNC in 2005, but remains active in health research. He is currently the Acting Director of the Health Promotion Institute of the AARP and the American Federation for Aging Research (AFAR), based in Washington, DC and New York, NY, which focuses on the translation and dissemination of scientific health information affecting older adults. From 2010-11, Dr. DeFriese served as President and CEO of FutureCare of North Carolina, a non-profit research and education foundation working with the skilled nursing care community in this state to achieve higher standards of care for residents and families served by these facilities.

The annual Gordon H. DeFriese Lecture on Health Services Research is named in his honor. In addition the Gordon H. DeFriese Career Development in Aging Research Awards¬†were established to recognize Dr. DeFriese’s 40-year distinguished career in the development of and conduct of research to improve the quality of lives of older North Carolinians, and especially to his unwavering commitment to developing and supporting the careers of his colleagues.