David J. Skorton, MD
President and Chief Executive Officer
David J. Skorton, MD, is president and CEO of the AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges), a not-for-profit institution that represents the nation’s medical schools, teaching hospitals and health systems, and academic societies.
He began his leadership of the AAMC in July 2019 after a distinguished career in government, higher education, and medicine.
In his first year at the AAMC, Dr. Skorton led a comprehensive strategic planning process that established a new mission and vision for the AAMC and 10 bold action plans to tackle the nation’s most intractable challenges in health and health care and make academic medicine more diverse, equitable, and inclusive.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Skorton has shared the AAMC’s expertise in medical education, patient care, medical research, and health inequities and disparities. He has contributed to the national pandemic response through frequent interactions with senior government officials, appearances in national media, and a new podcast called “Beyond the White Coat.” He and the AAMC were leading voices in sounding the alarm on shortages of personal protective equipment in hospitals, testing shortages in academic laboratories, and the importance of respecting science and the scientific process in efforts to fight the pandemic. When national protests erupted over police brutality, Dr. Skorton was a passionate and outspoken voice for ending systemic racism in academic medicine and addressing persistent health disparities.
He also inspired the next generation of medical professionals through his “Heart to Heart” video series and speaking engagements at venues such as the Latino Medical Student Association and National Medical Fellowships, focusing on why now is such an important time to enter the field of medicine. He is a member of the USA TODAY Board of Contributors, a diverse group of writers with a broad range of expertise and views that span the political spectrum.
Prior to assuming the helm of the AAMC, Dr. Skorton served as the 13th secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, where he oversaw 19 museums, 21 libraries, the National Zoo, numerous research centers, and education programs. Prior to that, he served as president of two universities: Cornell University (2006 to 2015) and the University of Iowa (2003 to 2006), where he also served on the faculty for 26 years and specialized in the treatment of adolescents and adults with congenital heart disease. A pioneer of cardiac imaging and computer processing techniques, he was co-director and co-founder of the University of Iowa Adolescent and Adult Congenital Heart Disease Clinic.
A distinguished professor at Georgetown University, Dr. Skorton is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society, as well as a lifetime member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He also served on the AAMC Board of Directors from 2010 to 2013, and he was the charter president of the Association for the Accreditation of Human Research Protection Programs, Inc., the first group organized specifically to accredit human research protection programs.
Throughout his career, Dr. Skorton has focused on issues of diversity and inclusion. A nationally recognized supporter of the arts and humanities, as well as an accomplished jazz musician and composer, Dr. Skorton believes that many of society’s thorniest problems can only be solved by combining the sciences, social sciences, and the arts and humanities.
Dr. Skorton earned his BA from Northwestern University and his MD from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. He completed his medical residency and fellowship in cardiology and was chief medical resident at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is married to Robin Davisson, PhD, an award-winning scientist, who is a professor of molecular physiology at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine and Weill Cornell Medicine, as well as a professor of medicine at Georgetown University and an emerging visual artist.
Media Appearances and Speaking Engagements:
- “Why we need the arts and humanities to get us through the COVID-19 pandemic,” USA Today
- “Now is our time to act”: Leadership Plenary Speech delivered at Learn, Serve, Lead, the AAMC’s Virtual Annual Meeting, November 17, 2020
- “We need a covid-19 reset. So we developed a comprehensive plan to do just that,” Washington Post
- “Criticism of Dr. Fauci is misguided. Our understanding of COVID-19 is rapidly evolving,” USA Today
- “5 steps the U.S. should take now to prepare for the next pandemic,” USA Today
- “How The U.S. Can Prepare For The Next Pandemic,” NPR
- Economic Club of Washington, D.C.
- “Widespread but uneven shortages in testing components,” CNN Newsroom
- “Coronavirus testing needs to triple before the economy can safely reopen: Harvard,” CNBC
- Press conferences on the coronavirus, the health care workforce shortage, and racism and health.
- Listen to the “Beyond the White Coat” podcast