Sherman James is the Susan B. King Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Public Policy at Duke University and a Research Professor of Epidemiology (Rollins School of Public Health) and African American Studies (Emory College), at Emory University in Atlanta. Prior to Duke (2003-14), he taught 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.
He 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. He has served as an Associate Editor of Ethnicity & Disease, and also the American Journal of Public Health. In 2007-08, he served as president of the Society for Epidemiologic Research (SER), the largest professional organization of its kind in the world. In 2008, he was named a Distinguished Alumnus of Washington University in St. Louis.