David M. Murray, Ph.D.

David Murray, Phd

Associate Director for Prevention
Director, Office of Disease Prevention

Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), appointed David M. Murray, Ph.D., as Associate Director for Prevention and Director of the Office of Disease Prevention (ODP) on July 2, 2012. Dr. Murray joined the NIH on September 23, 2012. 

Dr. Murray completed his Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Denison University in 1973. He completed his Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in 1978. In 1981, he completed a National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)-funded postdoctoral fellowship in cardiovascular health behavior in the Laboratory of Physiological Hygiene, a division of the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota. He joined the faculty of the Laboratory immediately after his fellowship. The Laboratory was founded by Ancel Keys and was the home of Henry Taylor, Henry Blackburn, and other pioneers in cardiovascular epidemiology.

Dr. Murray began his work in prevention research during his postdoctoral fellowship at Minnesota, working closely with C. Anderson Johnson and Russell V. Luepker on the Robbinsdale Anti-Smoking Project, and later on several followup studies funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and by the National Cancer Institute. After he joined the faculty in the Laboratory of Physiological Hygiene in 1981, he expanded into prevention research on alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs in adolescent populations, working closely with Cheryl Perry. Those projects were funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

At about the same time, he became involved in the Minnesota Heart Health Program (MHHP), serving initially as Co-Youth Education Director with Cheryl Perry, then as Associate Health Program Director with Maury Mittelmark, and later as Health Program Director and Co-Principal Investigator with Henry Blackburn, Russell Luepker, David Jacobs, Neil Bracht, and the other MHHP investigators. At the time, the MHHP was the largest NIH grant ever awarded to the University of Minnesota. It was one of three community-based heart disease prevention programs funded by the NHLBI in the 1980s and early 1990s, and helped create the basis for the community-based health promotion and disease prevention programs we see today.

Many other studies developed out of the MHHP, including the Promotion of Healthy Eating Patterns in Youth (Cheryl Perry, PI), Children’s Activity Trial for Cardiovascular Health (Cheryl Perry, PI), and Models for Treating High Blood Cholesterol (Russell Luepker, PI). All were funded by the NHLBI.

Most of these studies were examples of group-randomized trials. In these studies, identifiable social groups are the unit of assignment, while members of those groups are the units of observations. The design and analytic issues inherent in these studies were not well understood in the 1980s and 1990s, though Jerome Cornfield’s classic paper, Randomization by Group: A Formal Analysis, was published in 1978. Dr. Murray became increasingly interested in these issues, collaborating with Peter Hannan and others at Minnesota, and learning from pioneers in this area, including Allan Donner.

Dr. Murray’s first interaction with the ODP occurred in 1992, when the Office sponsored a meeting of methodologists from survey research, educational statistics, biostatistics, and epidemiology for the first NIH conference on the design and analysis of group-randomized trials. Dr. Murray coordinated that meeting, which was convened under the auspices of Dr. William Harlan, the third Associate Director for Prevention and Director of the ODP.

Dr. Murray continued to work on group-randomized trials, and to investigate their design and analytic issues, through the 1990s. In 1998, he published the first textbook on this material.

Dr. Murray left the University of Minnesota in 1998 to become the first Lillian and Morrie Moss Chair of Excellence in Psychology at the University of Memphis. In 2005, he moved to Ohio State University as the Chair of the Division of Epidemiology in the College of Public Health. He continued to work on group-randomized trials, and on the methods for their design and analysis, throughout his time at Memphis and at Ohio State.

Over the past 40 years, Dr. Murray has worked on more than 50 health promotion and disease prevention research projects funded by the NIH and other agencies. He served on more than 40 grant review panels for the NIH and as the first Chair of the Community Level Health Promotion study section. He has published more than 250 articles in the peer-reviewed literature.

Dr. Murray has a passion for prevention research done well and believes that we can best advance the nation’s health by ensuring that prevention programs are based on good science, that they are carefully designed and evaluated, that effective interventions are disseminated, and that ineffective interventions are identified and discarded. This view is entirely consistent with the mission of the ODP, which is to work with the NIH Institutes and Centers and other partners to provide leadership and direction for the development, refinement, implementation, and coordination of a trans-NIH plan to increase the scope, quality, dissemination, and impact of NIH disease prevention and health promotion research.



Recent Papers on NIH Prevention Research

Murray DM, Villani J, Vargas AJ, Lee JA, Myles RL, Wu JY, Mabry PL, Schully SD. NIH Primary and Secondary Prevention Research in Humans During 2012-2017. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2018;55(6):915-25. PMC6251492

Villani J, Schully SD, Meyer P, Myles RL, Lee JA, Murray DM, Vargas AL. A Machine Learning Approach to Identify NIH-Funded Applied Prevention Research. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2018;55(6):913-4. PMC6251715.

Murray DM. Prevention Research at the National Institutes of Health. Public Health Reports. 2017;132(5):535-8. PMC5593237.

Murray DM, Kaplan RM, Ngo-Metzger Q, Portnoy B, Olkkola S, Stredrick D, Kuczmarski RJ, Goldstein AB, Perl HI, O'Connell ME. Enhancing Coordination Among the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and National Institutes of Health. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2015;49(3 Suppl 2):S166-73.

Murray DM, Cross WP, Simons-Morton D, Engel J, Portnoy B, Wu J, Watson PA, Olkkola S. Enhancing the Quality of Prevention Research Supported by the National Institutes of Health. American Journal of Public Health. 2015;105(1):9-12. PMC4265917.


Recent Papers on Methods for Design and Analysis of Group-Randomized Trials

Murray DM, Pals SP, George SM, Kuzmichev A, Lai GY, Lee J, Myles RL, Nelson SM. Design and analysis of group-randomized trials in cancer: a review of current practicesPreventive Medicine. 2018; 111:241-7. PMC5930119.

Li F, Turner EL, Heagerty PJ, Murray DM, Vollmer WM, DeLong ER. An evaluation of constrained randomization for the design and analysis of group-randomized trials with binary outcomes. Statistics in Medicine. 2017. doi: 10.1002/sim.7410.

Turner EL, Li F, Gallis JA, Prague M, Murray DM. Review of recent methodological developments in group-randomized trials: Part 1-Design. American Journal of Public Health. 2017;107(6):907-15. PMC5425852.

Turner EL, Prague M, Gallis JA, Li F, Murray DM. Review of Recent Methodological Developments in Group-Randomized Trials: Part 2-Analysis. American Journal of Public Health. 2017;107(7):1078-86.

Cook AJ, Delong E, Murray DM, Vollmer WM, Heagerty PJ. Statistical lessons learned for designing cluster randomized pragmatic clinical trials from the NIH Health Care Systems Collaboratory Biostatistics and Design Core. Clinical Trials, 2016;13(5):504-12. PMC5025337.

Li F, Lokhnygina Y, Murray DM, Heagerty PJ, DeLong ER. An evaluation of constrained randomization for the design and analysis of group-randomized trials. Statistics in Medicine. 2016;35(10):1565-79. PMC4826850.

Johnson JL, Kreidler SM, Catellier DJ, Murray DM, Muller KE, Glueck DH. Recommendations for choosing an analysis method that controls Type I error for unbalanced cluster sample designs with Gaussian outcomes. Statistics in Medicine. 2015;34(27):3531-45.

Andridge RR, Shoben AB, Muller KE, Murray DM. Analytic methods for individually randomized group treatment trials and group-randomized trials when subjects belong to multiple groups. Statistics in Medicine. 2014;33(13):2178-90. PMC4013262.


Recent Papers on the Design and Primary Results of Group-Randomized Trials

Ockene JK, Hayes RB, Churchill LC, Crawford SL, Jolicoeur DG, Murray DM, Shoben AB, David SP, Ferguson KJ, Huggett KN, Adams M, Okuliar CA, Gross RL, Bass PF, 3rd, Greenberg RB, Leone FT, Okuyemi KS, Rudy DW, Waugh JB, Geller AC. Teaching medical students to help patients quit smoking: outcomes of a 10-school randomized controlled trial. Journal of General Internal Medicine. 2016;31(2):172-81. PMC4720645.

Wewers ME, Shoben A, Conroy S, Curry E, Ferketich AK, Murray DM, Nemeth J, Wermert A. Effectiveness of two community health worker models of tobacco dependence treatment among community residents of Ohio Appalachia. Nicotine & Tobacco Research. 2016. doi: 10.1093/ntr/ntw265.

Rhew IC, Hawkins JD, Murray DM, Fagan AA, Oesterle S, Abbott RD, Catalano RF. Evaluation of community-level effects of communities that care on adolescent drug use and delinquency using a repeated cross-sectional Design. Prevention Science. 2016. doi: 10.1007/s11121-015-0613-4. PMC4833686.

Hayes RB, Geller A, Churchill L, Jolicoeur D, Murray DM, Shoben A, David SP, Adams M, Okuyemi K, Fauver R, Gross R, Leone F, Xiao R, Waugh J, Crawford S, Ockene JK. Teaching tobacco dependence treatment and counseling skills during medical school: rationale and design of the Medical Students helping patients Quit tobacco (MSQuit) group randomized controlled trial. Contemporary Clinical Trials. 2014;37(2):284-93. PMC4048818.

Freund KM, Battaglia TA, Calhoun E, Darnell JS, Dudley DJ, Fiscella K, Hare ML, LaVerda N, Lee JH, Levine P, Murray DM, Patierno SR, Raich PC, Roetzheim RG, Simon M, Snyder FR, Warren-Mears V, Whitley EM, Winters P, Young GS, Paskett ED, Writing Group of the Patient Navigation Research Program. Impact of patient navigation on timely cancer care: the Patient Navigation Research Program. Journal of the National Cancer Institute. 2014;106(6):dju115. PMC4072900.