The RWJF Health & Society Scholars program ended February 2017. The site will no longer be updated. More »

Michelle McMurry, Ph.D.

RWJF Health & Society Scholar:

Biological Sciences

Area(s) of Expertise:
Biomedical Research; Bioterrorism; Health Policy



Michelle McMurry-Heath is a physician and scientist with more than two decades of experience bridging the gap between science and policy, between medical solutions and patients. She comes to FaegreBD Consulting from her role as Associate Center Director for Science at the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH). As a senior director with the firm, Dr. McMurry-Heath delivers advisory and advocacy services to clients across the health and life sciences sector. As the lead for FaegreBD Consulting's regulatory team, she focuses on providing insights on the current regulatory landscape for medical devices and pharmaceuticals, as well as predicting and influencing the regulatory future. With noted innovation policy expertise, Dr. McMurry-Heath focuses on constructing strategies to bring cutting edge medical technologies and biomedical breakthroughs to patients. She specializes in issues related to precision medicine, health IT, diagnostics based upon next generation sequencing, complex diagnostics, targeted drug therapies, solutions for rare disorders and special patient populations, and reproductive health. From 2004-05, Dr. McMurry-Heath used her tenure as a MacArthur Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and a Robert Wood Johnson Health and Society Scholar at the University of California San Francisco to study implementation of the California Stem Cell Research Initiative and the United Nations treaty on stem cell research. As a member of the board of the Regenerative Medicine Foundation, she has seen firsthand how challenging it can be to find and sustain political and economic support for emerging medical science, but has worked with patient groups and companies to successfully navigate those hurdles. As a member of the Obama administration transition team for science, Dr. McMurry-Heath applied these principals to expanding funding for health-related engineering research at the National Science Foundation. As the founding director of the Aspen Institute's Health, Biomedical Science and Society Initiative, Dr. McMurry-Heath mastered the art of constructing strategic stakeholder coalitions to advance policy debates and surmount contentious roadblocks to progress. Her experience in this interdisciplinary think tank provided a unique opportunity to bring pharmaceutical and health insurance CEOs together with leaders in patient advocacy and health care. In addition to focused projects on issues ranging from regulation and coverage of laboratory developed tests to tackling chronic diseases in the context of health insurance reform, she directed the Biannual Aspen Health Forum which convened more than 150 medical thought leaders to dialogue with more than 350 participants from a range of industries and backgrounds. Dr. McMurry-Heath drew on this experience as the primary architect of the Medical Device Innovation Consortium (MDIC), a novel public-private partnership between the FDA and almost 50 members of the medical technology industry and patient advocacy community. Since its inception two years ago, MDIC members have pooled resources and talent to take on some of the most intractable topics in medical device innovation: optimizing clinical trials, applying computer modeling to device design and regulation, compliance science, pathways for insuring the clinical validity of new diagnostics, and the science behind measuring patient preferences. From 2010-14, Dr. McMurry-Heath was the Associate Center Director for Science in CDRH science at the FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH). In this role, she was a member of the senior leadership team of CDRH. In addition to MDIC's focus on patient preference, Dr. McMurry-Heath led the FDA team tasked with defining a new role for patients in the regulation of medical devices and diagnostics. This experience has made her a trusted advisor on adapting patient focused drug development into organizational strategy. While at FDA, she led efforts to stimulate innovation for pediatric and special patient populations, standards development, and measuring the impact of FDA-sponsored research. Her duties included managing the regulatory science programmatic portfolio for the center, including research scientists in the Office of Science and Engineering Laboratories and the Office of Surveillance and Biometrics. While at the Aspen Institute, Dr. McMurry-Heath's health diplomacy work included projects in 11 countries, including Cambodia and Rwanda. She also worked to improve graduate science education and measure the impact of federal science spending in the Office of the Director of the National Science Foundation (NSF) as an AAAS Science Policy Fellow under Dr. Rita Colwell.

Journal Articles:
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