David C. Colby, PhD, vice president of Research and Evaluation at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, leads a team dedicated to improving the nation's ability to understand key health and health care issues so that informed decisions can be made concerning the way Americans maintain health and obtain health care. He is guided by the principle that research speaks truth to power when it is practical and communicated to a broader audience, and views his role of developing and disseminating focused research doing just that.
Colby believes in investing in future leaders because “people and ideas matter and can bring about change,” and he takes an active role in the Foundation’s long-term commitment to build health policy and health service research expertise at the nation’s academic institutions.
Since joining the Foundation in 1998, Colby has served in a number of leadership positions including interim vice president of Research and Evaluation, deputy director of Research and Evaluation, deputy director of the Health Care Group, interim team leader for the Quality team, and team leader for the Coverage team. Through these roles, he sees the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation as uniquely positioned to adopt new strategies to shape health and health care policies and programs nationwide.
Colby came to the Foundation after nine years of service with the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission and the Physician Payment Review Commission, where he was deputy director. While working in government, Colby developed policy research contributing to landmark legislation that changed the formula for Medicare reimbursement. Previously, he had worked on physician payment issues as a Robert Wood Johnson Faculty Fellow in Health Care Finance, serving in the Congressional Budget Office. Prior to his policy work, he was associate professor in the Policy Sciences Graduate Program and coordinator of the Masters of Policy Sciences Program at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. He was dean of freshmen and assistant dean at Williams College and held faculty positions at Williams College and State University College at Buffalo.
Colby’s published research has focused on Medicaid and Medicare, media coverage of AIDS, and, in political science, civil rights. He was an associate editor of the Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law from 1995 to 2002. In 2000, he was elected to the National Academy of Social Insurance for his contributions to the nation’s understanding of social insurance programs.
Born in California, he received a PhD in political science from the University of Illinois, an MA from Ohio University, and a BA from Ohio Wesleyan University.
He and his wife, Susan, a retired school psychologist, live in Princeton. They have three adult children and four grandchildren. They enjoy minor league baseball on sunny days and exploring the culture and cuisine of Italy.