Nathan W. Perry, Jr. Award for Career Service to Health Psychology

Robert M. Kaplan, PhD
Robert M. Kaplan, PhD

Robert M. Kaplan, PhD , University of California, Los Angeles

Dr. Kaplan has a long history of senior leadership in government, academia, and professional organizations. He is currently the Regenstrief Distinguished Fellow, Purdue University Professor of Medicine at Stanford University and Director of Research at the Stanford School of Medicine Clinical Excellence Research Center (CERC).  Dr. Kaplan also served as Chief Science Officer at the US Agency for Health Care Research and Quality (AHRQ) and Associate Director of the National Institutes of Health, where he led the behavioral and social sciences programs.  He is also a Distinguished Emeritus Professor of Health Services and Medicine at UCLA, where he led the UCLA/RAND AHRQ health services training program and the UCLA/RAND CDC Prevention Research Center. He was Chair of the Department of Health Services from 2004 to 2009.  From 1997 to 2004 he was Professor and Chair of the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, at the University of California, San Diego.

In addition to his leadership in federal service, Dr. Kaplan is active in a variety of cross-governmental activities and academic leadership roles. He has served as co-chair of the Social Behavioral and Economics Sciences subcommittee (of Committee of Science) of the US National Science and Technology Council, within the United States Executive Office of the President. He has also held a leadership role as a member of the National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics and the Intergovernmental Working Group on Quality of Healthcare. In 2005, he was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies of Sciences. He also became chair of a large medical school department in 1996 and was the only Ph.D. chair of a clinical department in an American medical school at the time. During his time as chair the department grew from 29 to over 90 members and NIH funding quadrupled.

He is a past president of several organizations, including the American Psychological Association Society for Health Psychology, Section J of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (Pacific), the International Society for Quality of Life Research, the Society for Behavioral Medicine, and the Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research. Kaplan is a former Editor-in-Chief of Health Psychology and of the Annals of Behavioral Medicine.  His 20 books and over 530 articles or chapters have been cited more than 33,000 times (H-index>94) and the ISI includes him in the listing of the most cited authors in his field (defined as above the 99.5th percentile). For example, he began doing studies on quality of life measurement in the early 1970s at a time when there was essentially no research literature on the topic. Today there are about 10,000 papers published per year that address quality of life.  Early in his career, he was awarded an NIH grant to study behavioral diet and exercise as interventions to manage type 2 diabetes at a time when there were essentially no other studies in the literature that served as models for this work. Bob’s Presidential Address for Division 38 (22 years ago) also argued that medical care reimbursement should be based on patient outcomes; at a time when there was very little attention to the relationship between outcomes and reimbursement for care. AND in 1997 (20 years ago) his Society of Behavioral Medicine Presidential Address challenged the idea that cancer screenings were always a good idea and he advocated for shared medical decision-making.  Although this notion is now ideal and widely accepted, it was extremely unpopular in 1997.

Dr. Kaplan has been an incredible mentor to colleagues, junior faculty, and graduate students over the span of his career. He has mentored some incredibly successful graduate students over the years who now serve in national leadership roles such as Liz Eakin, who served as Past President of the Australian Society of Behavioral Medicine and is now the Head of the School of Public Health at the University of Queensland, Karen Calfas, who serves as the Assistant Vice Chancellor at the University of California San Diego, Alan Gifford who serves as Associate Director at the Center for Health Quality, Outcomes, and Economic Research at Boston University, Dominick Frosh, who serves as Chief of Health Care Delivery for the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, and Nasleen Bhranal, Director of Science and Policy for the US Surgeon General (last administration).

In summary, on a personal note, I would like to thank Bob for the incredible role model, and more importantly friendship, he has given me for more than 30 years. There have been lots of battles but it has been a fun ride and people like him have made all our hard work in the field of Health Psychology worth it!

Dawn Wilson, Ph.D.