James E.K. Hildreth, Ph.D., M.D.
Dr. James Hildreth graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University, was selected as the first African American Rhodes Scholar from Arkansas (1978), graduated from Oxford University with a PhD in Immunology (1982) and received a medical degree from Johns Hopkins University (1987).
Hildreth began his research on HIV and AIDS in 1986 and received NIH funding for almost two decades. From 1989 until 2005, Hildreth served in positions at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and was the first African American in the 125-year history of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine to obtain full professorship with tenure in the basic sciences.
He established the Center for AIDS Health Disparities Research Center at Meharry Medical College then became president and CEO in 2015. Hildreth has attained international recognition for his research in immunology with a focus on HIV and other viruses.
Since Nashville announced the city’s first COVID-19 case, Hildreth’s mission has been clear and deliberate—to protect the public, share the science and serve the underserved. In 2020, Hildreth became a key government advisor. In February, he was named to President Biden’s Health Equity Task Force to develop a national, organized effort to fight COVID-19 and in March, Mayor John Cooper tapped him for the newly formed Nashville COVID-19 Task Force.
Hildreth has become a leading voice on efforts to alleviate minority health disparities and improve access to quality care. He has catapulted Meharry Medical College to the national stage as a prominent expert on COVID-19, the pandemic’s impact on minority communities and systemic oppression and he established Meharry and its graduates as leaders in the fight for health equity. Hildreth’s efforts over the last year have secured multiple partnerships for Meharry and attracted more than $87 million in gifts and partnerships, furthering the College’s mission to provide essential health care access to all.
Hildreth’s many awards include the Whitney M. Young, Jr. Community Service Award from the Middle Tennessee Council of the Boy Scouts of America; induction into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame (2009) and into the Johns Hopkins University Society of Scholars (2011); and NIH Pioneer Award (2011). Hildreth was elected to the Institute of Medicine (now the National Academy of Medicine) in 2008. He was recently named one of the 50 Most Influential Clinical Leaders by Modern Healthcare. Hildreth serves as chair of the National Academic Affiliations Council of the Veterans Administration and on the Advisory Council to the NIH Director. President Biden appointed him to the White House COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force in 2021 and he serves on the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee of the FDA which reviews COVID-19 vaccines for approval. Hildreth serves on a number of boards including the Association of Academic Health Centers, General Board of Higher Education of the United Methodist Church and chair of the board of the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. Some of his notable local awards this year include Public Relations Society of America (Nashville) Apollo Award for Communications Leadership, NBJ Most Admired CEO, Nashville Lifestyles Most Interesting People and NBJ Newsmaker of the Year.