Bill Frist


Heart and lung transplant surgeon Bill Frist became the U.S. Senate Majority Leader and led passage of the Bush Administration's landmark HIV/AIDS global assistance bill. Today he continues to advocate for global health as a critical part of United States diplomacy.


Former Senator William Frist is a nationally acclaimed heart and lung transplant surgeon, former U.S. Senate Majority Leader, and chairman of the Distinguished Executives Council of the healthcare firm Cressey & Company. Actively engaged in the medical and humanitarian communities, Bill was instrumental in the passage of the 2003 Medicare Modernization Act and of the historic PEPFAR legislation that provided life-saving treatment to over 13 million people and reversed the spread of HIV/AIDS worldwide. As the founder and director of the Vanderbilt Multi-Organ Transplant Center, Dr. Frist has performed over 150 heart and lung transplants, authored over 100 medical articles, and published seven books on topics such as bioterrorism, transplantation, and leadership. He is founder and chairman of global health organization Hope Through Healing Hands, and currently serves as an adjunct professor of cardiac surgery at Vanderbilt University.


Bill on the TEDMED Blog.

See Bill Frist and others speaking on this topic.

Bill Frist: The Case for Keeping America’s AIDS Relief Plan, 2017.

It’s time for the U.S. to lead on combating global malnutrition, 2016.

Saving Lives, Strengthening Nations, 2015. 

A Case for Strategic Health Diplomacy: A Study of PEPFAR, 2015.

Medicine as a Currency for Peace Through Global Health Diplomacy, 2007.


USAID’s 2017 Annual Report to Congress on PEPFAR: “PEPFAR has transformed the global HIV/AIDS response and is currently supporting nearly 11.5 million people with lifesaving antiretroviral treatment (ART), exceeding our 2016 target of 11.4 million… When you consider that there were fewer than 50,000 people on treatment in sub-Saharan Africa when PEPFAR began, the magnitude of this work becomes clearer.”

Bill Gates: Cutting Foreign Aid Makes America Less Safe,” 2017: “A more stable world is good for everyone. But there are other ways that aid benefits Americans in particular. It strengthens markets for U.S. goods: of our top 15 trade partners, 11 are former aid recipients. It is also visible proof of America’s global leadership.”

Research from the Gates Foundation and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation on progress made on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, which includes global data on child mortality, HIV/AIDS deaths, poverty, health care coverage, smoking rates, and other global health indicators – and what will happen if we fail to continue to prioritize global health.  

The Mother & Child Project,” 2015, compiled by Hope Through Healing Hands: Melinda Gates, Kay Warren, Senator Bill Frist, M.D., Kimberly Williams Paisley, Jennifer Nettles, Amy Grant, and many other inspirational leaders, cultural icons, political experts, academics, and service providers tackle the important topic of maternal and child health in developing countries. Through personal narrative and compelling research, this book educates and inspires people of faith to join us in empowering mothers and children worldwide.


Help ensure that the people of the United States through our federal government continue to prioritize global health as a “currency for peace and compassion” by encouraging Members of Congress and the President to fully fund global health in our budget:

  1. Communicate with your elected officials:
         • Contact the President of the United States by filling out the online contact form or by calling the White House switchboard at 202-456-1414, or the comments line at 202-456-1111 during business hours.
         • Contact Members of the U.S. Congress
               o U.S. Senators—Get contact information for your Senators.
               o U.S. Representatives—Find the website and contact information for your Congressman in the U.S. House of Representatives.
         • In your message, encourage your elected officials to:  restore cuts to the President's recommended International Affairs budget and support funding for Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health, International Family Planning, Nutrition, and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria in the global health account at 2017 levels. Sample letter here.
  2. Take one minute to fill out an advocacy form at Hope Through Healing Hands to share your support for protecting funding for the U.S. International Affairs Account for global health and development:

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Global Diplomacy Doc