Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

Renee E. Fox, M.D.
MSA SC 3520-16883

Biography:

Dr. Renee Fox is an Associate Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Maryland’s School of Medicine in Baltimore and President of the Institute for a Healthiest Maryland. Dr. Fox’s work in the medical field as a neonatologist and as a medical activist has radically changed the lives of many of Maryland’s residents. Focusing specifically around Baltimore’s infant mortality rate, many of the initiatives established by Fox have helped increase the health of women and infants, making Fox a heroine for health reform in Maryland.

Renee Ellen Fox was born in Staten Island, New York, and has been a resident of Maryland for over twenty-five years. Fox attended Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, for her undergraduate education and received a degree in anthropology. After completing her undergraduate career, Fox attended university in Belgium at Université Libre de Bruxelles where she studied medicine for four years. When she returned to the United States, Fox  attended University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry in New York where she received her medical degree. Following a short teaching stint at Harvard Medical School of Pediatrics, Dr. Fox moved to Baltimore and began what would a long career of teaching pediatric medicine at University of Maryland School of Medicine.1


Almost ten years after arriving in Baltimore to serve as an attending neonatologist at the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC), Dr. Fox was appointed to Medical Director of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). In 2001, she became the division head of the Neonatology Department and increased research funding for the division 243% between years 2002-2007.2 She also served as chairman of many different committees in the University of Maryland Medical System during this time period, showing her commitment to improving the effectiveness of the medical system for all visitors to the hospital.

 

In 2004, Dr. Fox was selected as the Hedwig van Ameringen Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine (ELAM) Program for Women, sponsored by Drexel University School of Medicine. The fellowship is designed for “the sustained success of women who achieve leadership positions…and a change in the culture of academic health centers to value the contributions of women.”3 She was also named a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Fellow in 2007. This extremely prestigious fellowship allowed her to work in Washington, D.C. for a year and gain hands-on experience in the field of health care policy. Dr. Fox was the first Health Policy Fellow selected to work in the Congressional Budget Office, which gave her “an unparalleled view of health care economics for a physician.”4

 
After her time as a Health Policy Fellow, Dr. Fox returned to Baltimore and continued her clinical work as a neonatologist at UMMC. As a result of the experienced gained from her time in the Congressional Budget Office, Dr. Fox partnered with the Baltimore City Department of Health to determine the causes behind the city’s abnormally high infant mortality rate and possible solutions for the problem. The infant mortality rate in Maryland, while decreasing since 1986, nonetheless remained consistently higher than the national average (7.2% in 2009). Baltimore City’s infant mortality rates caused by low birth weight and pre-term births between 1997-2007 were also much higher than the state average.5 23% of infant deaths in Baltimore City between 2005-2007 were related to disorders caused by pre-term birth and low birth rate, and 16% of deaths were caused by Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), which is caused by unsafe sleeping arrangements.6 The city’s infant mortality rate actually increased from 12.2 out of 1,000 live births in 2008 to 13.5 out of 1,000 live births in 2009, and the rate among African Americans was at 15.8 for every 1,000 live births, a rate higher than that in many third world nations.7 Clearly, the issue of infant mortality was a serious epidemic that needed addressing, and that is exactly what Dr. Fox did.

 
“The Strategy to Improve Birth Outcomes in Baltimore City,” a report that Dr. Fox helped develop, was released in April 2009 and pinpointed many factors that led to the excessive infant death in the city. The report explains that “the plan’s success will be measured by rates of pre-term birth, low birth weight, and deaths from unsafe sleep in select communities and in Baltimore as a whole over the next three years.” Citing the reasons and environmental factors that result in infant mortality, the report formulated solutions specifically for Baltimore City to combat these factors in order to minimize poor birth outcomes that most often result in infant death.8

 
The grassroots organization “B’More for Healthy Babies” was established by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene as a result of this report and Dr. Fox was appointed the chief investigator of the program. In an August 2010 Baltimore Sun article, Dr. Fox, along with two other colleagues, explained that the program “will promote coordination and collaboration among the citywide B'More for Healthy Babies initiative, health care and social services providers, faith-based organizations, civic and business groups, and residents of the Upton Druid Heights community to foster measurable and sustainable improvement in birth outcomes, and in maternal and child health.”9 They also broke down the “ABC Method” for properly putting a baby to sleep, altering parents that babies must be alone, on their backs, and in a crib in order to prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. This was the beginning of Dr. Fox’s efforts to create better quality and healthier lives for women and children, and her efforts quickly showed results.

 
In August 2012, a report was released that confirmed the decrease in infant mortality rate and that the rate had dropped to a record low for the second year in a row.10 These successes were largely contributed to B’More for Healthy Babies, which employed such methods as going door-to-door in areas with the highest infant death rates in order to spread their messages about proper health for mothers and infants. The organization also reached out to fathers by playing a video about the “ABC” sleep method in neighborhood barbershops. The video even played in courtrooms while jurors waited to be called in for duty.11 Although the overall infant mortality rate decreased, city health officials were still unsatisfied with the rate of decrease among African Americans, expressing their concern that the rate was still too high and was decreasing at a slower rate than that of white babies.12

 
The infant mortality rate in Maryland once again decreased for the third year in a row, as noted in an August 2013 Baltimore Sun article. The three-year reduction goal established by the State in their 2009 report was achieved before 2012, and the State furthered their hopes for reducing the infant mortality rate by aiming to decrease the rate by another 10% by 2017.13 As chief investigator for the program, a large amount of credit must be given to Dr. Fox for helping decrease the infant mortality rate in Baltimore City and in the State of Maryland in general.

 
Dr. Fox was named the Executive Director of the newly established Institute for a Healthiest Maryland in 2011, an institution formed by University of Maryland, Baltimore and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. The institute aims to improve wellness throughout the entire state mainly through obesity prevention, tobacco prevention, and management of hypertension and high cholesterol.14 In regards to her appointment, Dr. Fox stated, “My new position as the Executive Director of the Institute for a Healthiest Maryland is an exciting next step in my career…I will support its mission to bring together academic partners and public health practitioners in improving the health of Maryland residents and transforming communities.”15

 
Most recently, Dr. Fox served on the Maryland Health Quality and Cost Council Health Disparities Workgroup, a committee led by Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown. The committee “proposed creating Health Enterprise Zones (HEZ) in an effort to reduce health and health care disparities, improve health outcomes for Marylanders, and stem the rise in health care costs.”16 The workgroup proposed establishing four HEZs in areas where there is a large disparity in health between different racial and ethnic groups.17 These Health Enterprise Zones aim to “create an integrated health care system that expands health care access in a patient and family-centered manner.”18 Dr. Fox’s endeavors in public health policy have resulted in the expansion of healthcare to thousands, especially those in impoverished areas.

 
Dr. Fox currently resides in Baltimore County with her husband. As a neonatologist at the University of Maryland Medical Center, Dr. Fox has saved a countless number of infant lives. Her work, however, has stretched beyond neonatology and Dr. Fox has helped better the lives of all Maryland residents through grassroots organizations and public policies. Dr. Renee Fox has worked nonstop to improve the health of citizens of the State of Maryland, especially that of women and children, and her brilliance and dedication towards assisting and educating all make her a perfect candidate for the Women’s Hall of Fame.



1. Renee E. Fox resume, http://medschool.umaryland.edu/facultyresearchprofile/uploads/8ca2e07c8d7947be878569a6f575f359.pdf. Return to text

2. Ibid. Return to text

3. Rosalyn C. Richman, M.A. and Diane Magrane, M.D., “Spotlight: The Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine (ELAM) Program for Women—Fourteen Years of Academic Women Leaders in Medicine, Dentistry, and Public Health,” Association of American Medical Colleges, accessed June 12, 2014, https://www.aamc.org/members/gfa/faculty_vitae/148588/elam.html. Return to text

4. “Alumni Directory: Renee Fox, MD,” Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Fellows, accessed June 11, 2014, http://www.healthpolicyfellows.org/secure/alumni-bio.php?id=4502. Return to text

5. City of Baltimore, Department of Health, The Strategy to Improve Birth Outcomes in Baltimore City, April 2009, Baltimore, 2009, http://www.healthybabiesbaltimore.com/uploads/file/pdfs/SIBO%20Strategy%202009.pdf (accessed June 12, 2014). Return to text

6. Ibid. Return to text

7. Renee Fox, Wendy Lane, and Bronwyn Mayden, “TARGETING INFANT MORTALITY: CITY PARTNERSHIP IS RAISING AWARENESS OF THE SIMPLE STEPS THAT CAN REMEDY THIS SCOURGE,” Baltimore Sun, August 10, 2010. Return to text

8. City of Baltimore, Department of Health, The Strategy to Improve Birth outcomes in Baltimore City. Return to text

9. Renee Fox, Wendy Lane, and Bronwyn Mayden, “TARGETING INFANT MORTALITY.” Return to text

10. “B'more for healthy babies: Our view: Data suggest Maryland's efforts to reduce infant mortality are paying off,” Baltimore Sun, August 15, 2012. Return to text

12. Meredith Cohn, “Md. infant mortality rate at record low for second year: But state's death rate continues to be higher for African-American babies,” Baltimore Sun, August 9, 2012. Return to text

13. Andrea K. Walker, “Infant mortality reaches record low: New initiatives credited for steady decline in death rate among Maryland babies,” Baltimore Sun, August 30, 2013. Return to text

14. “Institute for a Healthiest Maryland (IHM),” University of Maryland: MPowering the State, accessed June 12, 2014, http://mpower.maryland.edu/initiatives/institute-for-a-healthiest-maryland-ihm/. Return to text

15. “Executive Director: Renee E. Fox,” Institute for a Healthiest Maryland, accessed June 12, 2014, http://www.healthiestmaryland.org/dr-renee-e-fox/. Return to text

16. Maryland Health Quality and Cost Council, Health Disparities Work Group Final Report and Recommendations, by E. Albert Reece, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A., et al, State of Maryland and University of Maryland School of Medicine, January 2012, http://www.governor.maryland.gov/ltgovernor/documents/disparitiesreport120117.pdf, accessed June 13, 2014. Return to text

17. Michael Dresser, “State names ‘health enterprise zones’ in Baltimore, 4 other areas,” Baltimore Sun,  January 25, 2013. Return to text

18. Maryland Health Quality and Cost Council, Health Disparities Work Group Final Report and Recommendations. Return to text

 

Biography written by 2014 summer intern Sharon Miyagawa.

 

Return to Dr. Renee E. Fox's Introductory Page
 


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