Harvard Business School has received a $10 million gift from Howard Cox to support the School’s Health Care Initiative with the goal of improving the quality and driving down the cost of healthcare in the United States. Cox, a venture capitalist and philanthropist who has been active in health care innovation in the US for over five decades, believes that through its interactions with business and government leaders, HBS is uniquely positioned to drive innovation in health care, creating substantive change that will greatly improve the quality and value of health care delivery.
“Howard Cox has been a champion of improving health care in our country for decades,” said HBS Dean Srikant Datar. “His visionary leadership, extensive expertise, and formidable intellect have driven change at some of the largest health care organizations in the country. I am delighted that his ongoing support for HBS will help ensure that the next generation of leaders can transform this space. He truly exemplifies our mission of making a difference in the world.”
With nearly 50 years of experience founding, advising, and growing health care firms, including major players like Stryker Corp., Cox has witnessed the sector’s evolution first-hand. He knows that leaders with great management skills can have a significant impact and he believes that funds derived from reducing health care expenditures could be used to improve education and increase wages, helping to close the income and opportunity gap.
“The US spent close to 20 percent of its gross domestic product on health care in 2020, the highest by far among developed countries. Health care also has doubled as a share of total government expenditures in the last three decades,” said Cox. “Improving healthcare in the US should be a team effort, with doctors focused on improved outcomes and managers focused on improved efficiencies with the goal of reducing health care costs as a percentage of GDP. I hope that my gift will inspire other alumni to contribute to the Health Care Initiative to further magnify its impact.”
Cox’s belief in a team approach led him to encourage and help fund the establishment of the Health Care Initiative at HBS in 2005, believing that the school’s resources and capabilities could enable it to be especially impactful.
“Dean [John] McArthur was an important figure in the healthcare sector in Boston and he and I shared a passion for making it better,” said Cox. “When Kim Clark became dean, John and I discussed with him how HBS could make a difference by playing a big role in improving health care in this country and how I wanted to help make that happen by providing the initial funding to establish a health care initiative at the school. Dean Clark agreed, and continued to invest in it, as has every dean since, and that’s why I want to continue investing in HBS.”
The Health Care Initiative impacts managerial practice and the pace of innovation by educating leaders and innovators who aspire to improve value across the healthcare industry. The Initiative fosters and promotes faculty research, supports the development of a portfolio of high-impact educational programs, and creates an interconnected HBS health care community. Since launching in 2005, the Initiative has spurred groundbreaking research and engaged with thousands of business and medical professionals to create a thriving community focused on understanding and improving health care.
In recognition of this commitment, the School named the Health Care Initiative faculty chair position in Cox’s honor. “It would be hard to overstate the significance and lasting impact of Howard’s gift to the Health Care Initiative,” said Robert Huckman, Howard Cox Health Care Initiative Faculty Chair and Albert J. Weatherhead III Professor of Business Administration. “Improving the health care system is one of the greatest management challenges of our time. This gift will significantly increase the annual funding available for this important work and enable us to conduct research and engage the community in novel ways. We’re honored that Howard continues to invest in our work and we’re humbled by his support of our efforts to put the insights of that work into practice.”
Cox was born in New York City in 1944. His father, Howard Ellis Cox was a decorated World War II pilot, New York attorney and Long Island developer. His mother owned and operated Ann Cox, Inc, a New York fashion design firm. Cox attended Princeton beginning at the age of 16, graduating in 1964. He graduated from Columbia Law School in 1967 and HBS in 1969.
Following service in the U.S. Army on assignment to the Office of the Secretary of Defense, he joined Greylock Partners in 1971. During his career, he led more than 30 successful investments. In addition to Stryker, the health care and life sciences investments included American Medical Systems; Amisys Managed Care; Arbor Health; Centene; Landacorp; Lunar; Meditech; Promega; Rehab Systems; and VHA Long Term Care.
In 2003, Cox, together with Greylock founding partners William Elfers, Daniel Gregory and Charles Waite and fellow General Partner Henry McCance, received the Harvard Business School Alumni Achievement Award in recognition of having helped to build more than 250 companies and nurture numerous leading-edge products in a wide range of areas, including information technology, health care, telecommunications, and software.
In addition to his work with Greylock, Cox has devoted much of his time to national security issues, chairing the finance and investment committee of In-Q-Tel, which brings new technologies to the U.S. intelligence agencies, and joining the Business Executives for National Security, the Brookings Institute, the Council on Foreign Relations and the Defense Business Board, which advises the Secretary of Defense on best business practices.
“The HBS Health Care Initiative has helped to shape management practice in the field for more than a decade, but it might never have existed were it not for the vision, tenacity and generosity of Howard Cox”, said Richard Hamermesh, MBA Class of 1961 Professor of Management Practice (Retired) and founding faculty chair of the HBS Health Care Initiative. “Howard was not only patient with us as we got the Initiative off the ground, he was also generative with ideas and insights. We benefited so much from his counsel, and he really helped to build the foundation for what exists today.”
The Health Care Initiative also recently named a new director, Michael Gaines (MBA 1996), who spent the past 25 years in biotech and pharmaceutical organizations building a career in marketing, corporate, and brand strategy. He held a broad range of leadership roles in both US and global bio/pharma organizations, and most recently founded Gaines Biopharma Consulting as he recognized that there were many small- and mid-sized clinical-stage organizations that needed experienced leadership to launch brands and help pursue strategic partnerships. He brings that same spirit of mentorship, collaboration, and innovation into his role at HBS.