Clements Center
Clements Center

Senator Bill Frist

Former Senator (R-TN)

Doctor and Senator Bill Frist is both a nationally recognized heart and lung transplant surgeon and former U.S. Senate Majority Leader. Uniquely qualified to address the challenges and solutions in health care policy, Senator Frist is consistently recognized among the most influential leaders in American healthcare and is one of only two individuals to rank in the top ten of each of the five inaugural Modern Healthcare Magazine annual surveys of the most powerful people in healthcare in the United States.

Senator Frist is the son of a family physician, and quickly followed his father's footsteps. He majored in health policy at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs before graduating with honors from Harvard Medical School. Dr. Frist completed surgical training at Massachusetts General Hospital and Stanford University under transplant pioneer Dr. Norm Shumway. As the founder and Director of the first-of-its-kind Vanderbilt Multi-Organ Transplant Center, he has performed over 150 heart and lung transplants and authored over 100 peer-reviewed medical articles and chapters and seven books on topics such as bioterrorism, transplantation, service, and leadership. He is board certified in both general and heart surgery.

Dr. Frist represented Tennessee in the U.S. Senate for 12 years where he served on both Health and Finance committees responsible for writing health legislation. He was elected Majority Leader of the Senate, having served fewer total years in Congress than any person chosen to lead that body in history. His leadership was instrumental in passage of prescription drug legislation and the historic and the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), unprecedented funding to fight HIV/AIDS at home and around the world.

Senator Frist's latest book, A Heart to Serve: The Passion to Bring Health, Hope, and Healing, is an inspirational treatise of channeling one's passions to serve others through medicine, politics, and global health. In it he discusses how his family shaped his values, his arduous path to leadership and service to others through heart transplantation, his jump to serving a larger community through politics, and his commitment to global health and communities around the world. The reader is treated throughout to a behind-the-scenes, insider's look at his life-saving emergency surgery on General David Petraeus, his unique health care experiences, including his working almost a year for the socialized British National Health Service, and the never fully told story of his rise to Majority Leader.

Today, Senator Frist is focused on domestic health reform, the basic science of heart transplantation, global health policy, economic development in low-income countries, health care disparities, medical missions around the world, the health of the mountain gorilla, and HIV/AIDS.

After serving on the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Commission to Build a Healthier America, which directly linked better health to education, Frist founded the Tennessee State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE) in 2009, which is a statewide K-12 education initiative working to improve the level of education for Tennessee students. It has blossomed into one of the premier state-based education reform organizations in the country, helping Tennessee design, pass and implement an ambitious range of reform including tenure reform, teacher evaluations, charter school expansion, and be one of two states to win the first round of Race to the Top.

Dr. Frist annually leads medical mission trips to Africa and locations hit by a natural disaster, including New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, Sri Lanka after the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, and Haiti after the devastating 2010 earthquake. Frist is Chair of Save the Children's "Newborn and Child Survival" campaign and the Nashville-based Hope Through Healing Hands. His current board service includes the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, First Lady Michelle Obama's "Partnership for a Healthier America" campaign to eliminate childhood obesity within a generation, the Bipartisan Policy Center, the Kaiser Family Foundation, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Harvard Medical School Board of Fellows, the Nashville Healthcare Council, and the Advisory Committees for Global Health at Duke and Harvard. He is also on the Advisory Board for technologically innovative healthcare companies ZocDoc, aTherapy, and Vitality Health.

Senator Frist was the 2007-2008 Frederick H. Schultz Professor of International Economic Policy at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, and the 2010 University Distinguished Professor of Business and Medicine at Vanderbilt University. Frist served as an adjunct professor of Cardiac Surgery and distinguished professor of Business at Owen School of Management at Vanderbilt University and clinical professor of Surgery at Meharry Medical College. As a leading authority on healthcare, Senator Frist also speaks nationally on health reform, government policy, politics, and volunteerism He is a partner in the private equity firm of Cressey and Company. Dr. Frist resides in Nashville, Tennessee.