DEAN ORNISH, MD, FACLM

Position
Founder & President

Organization
Preventive Medicine Research Institute

Biography

Dean Ornish, M.D., is the founder and president of the non-profit Preventive Medicine Research Institute and Clinical Professor of Medicine at UCSF and Clinical Professor of Medicine at UCSD. He received his M.D. from the Baylor College of Medicine, was a clinical fellow in medicine at Harvard Medical School, and completed an internship and residency in internal medicine at the Massachusetts General Hospital. He earned a B.A. in Humanities summa cum laude from the University of Texas in Austin, where he gave the baccalaureate address.

For over 40 years, he has directed clinical research demonstrating, for the first time, that comprehensive lifestyle changes may begin to reverse even severe coronary heart disease, without drugs or surgery. Medicare created a new benefit category, “intensive cardiac rehabilitation,” to provide coverage for this program. He directed the first randomized controlled trial demonstrating that comprehensive lifestyle changes may slow, stop or reverse the progression of early-stage prostate cancer. His research showed that comprehensive lifestyle changes affect gene expression, “turning on” disease-preventing genes and “turning off” genes that promote cancer and heart disease, as well as the first controlled study showing that these lifestyle changes may begin to reverse cellular aging by lengthening telomeres, the ends of our chromosomes which regulate aging (in collaboration with Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn, awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine & Physiology). He is currently directing the first randomized controlled trial to determine if comprehensive lifestyle changes can reverse the progression of early Alzheimer’s disease.

He is the author of seven books, all national bestsellers. UnDo It! (co-authored with Anne Ornish) was published by Random House as their lead nonfiction title in January 2019. His three main-stage TED.com talks have been viewed by over six million people.

The research that he and his colleagues conducted has been published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, The Lancet, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Circulation, The New England Journal of Medicine, the American Journal of Cardiology, The Lancet Oncology, and elsewhere. A one-hour documentary of their work was broadcast on NOVA, the PBS science series, and was featured on Bill Moyers’ PBS series, Healing & The Mind. Their work has been featured in all major media, including cover stories in Newsweek, TIME, and U.S. News & World Report. He has written a monthly column for TIME, Newsweek and Reader’s Digest magazines, is a LinkedIn Influencer, and was Medical Editor of The Huffington Post 2010-2016.

He was appointed by President Clinton to the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy; by President Obama to the White House Advisory Group on Prevention, Health Promotion, and Integrative and Public Health; and by Governor Newsom to the Governor’s Brain Trust on Alzheimer’s Disease Prevention and Preparedness. He is also a member of The Lancet Oncology “Moonshot Commission.” He has been a member of the boards of directors of the San Francisco Food Bank and the J. Craig Venter Institute. Dr. Ornish and colleagues established a lifestyle medicine clinic at the St. Vincent de Paul Homeless Shelter in San Francisco where over 30,000 homeless people were treated.

The “Ornish diet” has been rated “#1 for Heart Health” by a panel of experts at U.S. News & World Report

for nine years from 2011-2020. He co-chaired the Google Health Advisory Council with Marissa Mayer 2007-9.

He received the 1994 Outstanding Young Alumnus Award from the University of Texas, Austin; the University of California, Berkeley, “National Public Health Hero” award; the Jan J. Kellermann Memorial Award for distinguished contribution in the field of cardiovascular disease prevention from the International Academy of Cardiology; a U.S. Surgeon General Citation; a Presidential Citation from the American Psychological Association; the inaugural “Lifetime Achievement Award” from the American College of Lifestyle Medicine; the Beckmann Medal from the German Society for Prevention and Rehabilitation of Cardiovascular Diseases; the “Pioneer in Integrative Medicine” award from California Pacific Medical Center; the Stanley Wallach Award from the American College of Nutrition; the Glenn Foundation Award for Research; the Bravewell Collaborative Pioneer of Integrative Medicine award; the Sheila Kar Health Foundation Humanitarian Award from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center; Plantrician Project Luminary Award; and others. Dr. Ornish has been a physician consultant to President Clinton since 1993 and consulted with the chefs at The White House, Camp David, and Air Force One to cook more healthfully (1993-2000).

Dr. Ornish was recognized as “one of the 125 most extraordinary University of Texas alumni in the past 125 years;” by TIME magazine as a “TIME 100 Innovator;” by LIFE magazine as “one of the fifty most influential members of his generation;” by People magazine as “one of the most interesting people of the year;” and by Forbes magazine as “one of the world’s seven most powerful teachers.” www.ornish.com and www.pmri.org

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