Extended Biography

Senator William H. Frist, M.D. portrait

The Honorable William H. Frist, M.D.

Senator William Frist, M.D. is a nationally-acclaimed heart and lung transplant surgeon, former U.S. Senate Majority Leader, founding partner of Frist Cressey Ventures and chairman of the Distinguished Executives Council of the health service investment firm Cressey & Company.  He serves as Chair of the Global Board of The Nature Conservancy, the largest conservation organization in the world. He is actively engaged in the business as well as the medical, humanitarian, and philanthropic communities.

Senator Frist graduated from Princeton University and Harvard Medical School.  He completed surgical training at Massachusetts General Hospital and Stanford.  As the founder and director of the Vanderbilt Multi-Organ Transplant Center, he performed over 150 heart and lung transplants, authored over 100 peer-reviewed medical articles, and published seven books on topics such as bioterrorism, transplantation, and leadership.  Senator Frist is board certified in both general and heart surgery. Currently he serves as an adjunct professor of Cardiac Surgery at Vanderbilt University.

As a U.S. Senator representing Tennessee from 1994 -2006 (the first practicing physician elected to the Senate since 1928), Senator Frist served on both the Health (HELP) and the Finance Committees responsible for writing all health legislation. He was elected Majority Leader of the Senate, having served fewer total years in Congress than any person chosen to lead that body in history.   His leadership was instrumental in the passage of the 2003 Medicare Modernization Act and the historic PEPFAR legislation that provided life-saving treatment globally to over 12 million people and reversed the spread of HIV/AIDS worldwide.  He also held seats on the Foreign Relations Committee where he chaired the Subcommittee on Africa, the Commerce Committee, and the Banking Committee. He served six years with President Clinton and six years with President Bush. Honoring his pledge to serve just two terms, he left the Senate and his position as Majority Leader in 2006.

Senator Frist annually has led medical mission trips to Africa and Haiti, and emergency response teams to disasters around the globe, including to Sri Lanka after the Indian Ocean Tsunami, Bangladesh, Sudan, New Orleans after Katrina, Haiti after the earthquake, and the horn of Africa. He is founder and chairman of Hope Through Healing Hands, a global health non-profit focused on maternal and child health and global poverty, SCORE, a statewide collaborative education reform organization that has helped propel Tennessee to prominence as a K12 education reform state, and community health collaborative NashvilleHealth.

In 2019 he launched “A Second Opinion” podcast, which addresses challenging healthcare issues of today from three distinct vantage points: policy, medicine, and innovation.

He is Co-Chair of the Health Project at the Bipartisan Policy Center, and co-founder of Aspire Health, the nation’s largest non-hospice community-based palliative care company. His board service includes the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, The Nature Conservancy (Board Chair), and publicly-traded companies Select Medical and Teladoc Health.  In addition he is a board member of Aegis (lab), IDx (autonomous AI healthcare), MDsave (health consumerism), Cognosante (health information technology), BehaVR (virtual care), Devoted Health (Medicare Advantage plan), Monogram Health (kidney care), Main Street Health (rural health), CareBridge (long-term services and supports), and OneOncology (cancer care). His previous board service includes Princeton University, the Kaiser Family Foundation, the Smithsonian Institution, Accolade, AECOM (the largest engineering/architectural company in the world) and URS Corporation.

He has been a member of the Harvard Medical School Department of Global Health and Social Medicine Advisory Council since 2010, and previously chaired the Harvard Medical School’s Board of Fellows (1998) and served on Princeton University’s Board of Trustees. 

He is committed to advancing health equity, and has received honorary degrees from five Historically Black Colleges and Universities: Meharry Medical College, Honorary Doctorate of Medicine (1997); Morehouse College of Medicine, Honorary Doctorate of Science (2003); Fisk University, Honorary Doctorate of Laws (2004), Howard University, Honorary Doctorate of Laws (2004), and The LeMoyne-Owen College, Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters (2006).

Senator Frist is one of only two individuals to rank in the top ten of each of the five inaugural Modern Healthcare Magazine annual surveys of the most influential people in healthcare in the United States.

As a leading authority on healthcare, Senator Frist speaks nationally on health reform, government policy, global health, education reform, and volunteerism.

Senator Frist is married and has three sons, nine grandchildren and lives with his wife Tracy in Franklin, Tennessee.

(Updated December 2022)