A social epidemiologist, Sherman James is currently a Research Professor of Epidemiology at the Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University. He assumed this position on July 1, 2014 after retiring from Duke University on June 30, 2014. At Duke, he was the Susan B. King Distinguished Professor of Public Policy (2003-2014) and also held professorships in Sociology and Community and Family Medicine. Prior to Duke, he taught in the epidemiology departments at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (1973-89), and the University of Michigan (1989-03). At Michigan, he was the John P. Kirscht Collegiate Professor of Public Health, the Founding Director of the Center for Research on Ethnicity, Culture and Health (CRECH), Chair of the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, and a Senior Research Scientist in the Survey Research Center at the Institute for Social Research.
James received the AB degree (Psychology and Philosophy) from Talladega College (AL) in 1964, and the PhD degree in Social Psychology from Washington University in St. Louis, in 1973.
James is the originator of the John Henryism Hypothesis which posits that repetitive, “high-effort” coping with social and economic adversity is a major contributor to the well-known excess risk for hypertension and related cardiovascular diseases experienced by poor and working class African Americans.
James was elected to the National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine) of the National Academy of Sciences, in 2000. In 2001, he received the Abraham Lilienfeld Award from the Epidemiology section of the American Public Health Association for career excellence in the teaching of epidemiology. In 2008, he received a 5 year, Health Policy Investigator Award from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. He is a fellow of the American Epidemiological Society, the American College of Epidemiology, the American Heart Association, and the Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research. In 2007-08, he served as president of the Society for Epidemiologic Research (SER). In 2008, he was named a Distinguished Alumnus of Washington University in St. Louis, and he currently serves on Washington University’s National Advisory Council for Arts and Sciences.