jessie_Gruman_memorial (1)Jessie Gruman was founder and president of the Center for Advancing Health, a nonpartisan, Washington-based research institute, from 1992 until her death in 2014. CFAH activities are supported by foundations and individuals. The mission of CFAH is to increase people’s engagement in their health care. As president Dr. Gruman drew on her own experience of treatment for five cancer diagnoses, interviews with patients and caregivers, surveys and peer-reviewed research to describe and advocate for policies and practices to overcome the challenges people face in finding good care and getting the most from it.

Gruman worked on this same set of concerns in the private sector (AT&T), the public sector (National Cancer Institute) and the voluntary health sector (American Cancer Society).

She was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Council on Foreign Relations and was a fellow of the New York Academy of Medicine and the Society for Behavioral Medicine. She received honorary doctorates from Brown University, Carnegie Mellon University, Clark University, Georgetown University, New York University, Northeastern University, Salve Regina University, Syracuse University and Tulane University, and the Presidential Medal of the George Washington University. She was also honored by Research!America, the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship, and the Society for Behavioral Medicine, which in 2014 created the Jessie Gruman Award for Health Engagement to recognize annually an individual who has made a pivotal contribution to research, practice or policy in the field of health engagement.

Gruman received a B.A. from Vassar College and a Ph.D. in Social Psychology from Columbia University and was a professorial lecturer in the School of Public Health and Health Services at the George Washington University.

Gruman was the author of AfterShock: What to Do When the Doctor Gives You – or Someone You Love – a Devastating Diagnosis (Walker Publishing, second edition, 2010); Slow Leaks: Missed Opportunities to Encourage Our Engagement in Our Health Care (Health Behavior Media, 2013); A Year of Living Sickishly: A Patient Reflects(Health Behavior Media, 2013); The Experience of the American Patient: Risk, Trust and Choice (Health Behavior Media, 2009); Behavior Matters (Health Behavior Media, 2008) as well as scientific papers and opinion essays and articles. She blogged regularly on the Prepared Patient Blog and tweeted on weekdays @jessiegruman.

Read the collection of essays from Jessie Gruman


  • Jessie C. Gruman, Ph.D., the founder and president of the Center for Advancing Health, died at the age of 60 on July 14, 2014 at her home in New York City. A brief biographical sketch is available here.
  • A celebration of Jessie’s life was presented by her family, friends and colleagues at the New York Academy of Medicine in New York City on October 5, 2014. The program from this event is here.
  • A reception honoring Jessie’s work at the Center for Advancing Health was held on October 9, 2014 in Washington, DC at the American Geophysical Union, which hosted CFAH’s offices from 1994 to 2014. The program from this event is here.
  • In the weeks following Jessie’s death, CFAH published a variety of tributes and remembrances.
  • On July 14, 2014, her death was announced by M. Chris Gibbons, chair of the CFAH board of trustees.
  • On July 18, Jessie’s sister-in-law, Virginia Sloan, expressed appreciation on behalf of the family, and CFAH published ten excerpts from tributes.
  • On July 25, CFAH published four more excerpts from tributes.
  • On August 6, CFAH posted a remembrance by Doug Kamerow, a former CFAH board chair, originally published by The BMJ.
  • On August 18, CFAH posted a remembrance by Amy Berman, originally published byHealth Affairs.
  • On August 26, CFAH published excerpts from three more tributes plus the text from a presidential citation awarded to Jessie in March by the Society for Public Health Education.
  • On September 17, CFAH posted a remembrance by Sarah Greene, a former CFAH board member, originally published by e-patients.net.
  • On October 15, CFAH posted remarks by Judith Miller Jones, a former CFAH board chair, which she delivered at the reception honoring Jessie on October 9.
  • On December 19, 2014, CFAH posted an essay by Kate Lorig, a William Ziff Fellow at the Center for Advancing Health.

Contributions were made to the Jessie Gruman Memorial Fund by:

Norman Anderson
Donald Arbitblit
Amy Berman
Linda and Peter Bicks
Adam Brickman
Sarah Brookhart
Carolyn Clancy
Lina D’Orazio
Joyce Dennison
Lennart Dimberg
Employer Health Care Alliance Cooperative (Wisconsin)
Michael Everhart
Lee Fleisher
Sharon and Jonathan Franklin
Mary French
Bonnie Friedman
Nancy and Paul Gaffney
Ginsberg, Helfer and Boyd, PLLC
Ethan and Margaret Gorenstein
Mary and Jim Gosnell
Sarah Greene
David Grum
Peter Gruman

Sharon Hartnett and Robert Majcher
Darcy Howe and John Black
Marianne Hyde
Warren Ilchman
Judith Miller Jones
James and Marie Karanfilian
Ruth Katz
Debbie and Floyd Kearns
Larry Kessler
Harriet Kornfeld
Sierra Kuzava
Danielle Lavallee
Celia Lee and Michael Bofshever
Rebecca Lipman
Kate Lorig
Susan Lutgendorf
Shelley Martin
Dominic Mathurin
Paula McKinley
Irene Meier
Pamela Nagashima
Jean and David Nathan
Michael Ognibene

Delores Parron
Daniel Pine
Mario Pitchon
Lygeia Ricciardi
Janet and John Rodgers
William Rosenberg
Elaine Schattner
Stephen Schoenbaum
Joshua Seidman
Laura Shapiro and Jack Hawley
Cait Sleight
Teddie Sleight
Richard Sloan
Sonia and Gilbert Sloan
Diane Young-Spitzer and Lorry Spitzer
Marcia Stein
Michael VonKorff
Leyla Vural
Janet Wale
Nyna Williams
Redford and Virginia Williams
Beverly Winikoff
Kristen Zatarski