The Medical Society of New Jersey (MSNJ) has just announced that Lawrence Downs, Esq. of Ocean County has been elected to the position of Chief Executive Officer of the state’s largest physician organization. Downs will continue to serve as General Counsel for the organization upon his installation.

Downs will fill the position previously held by Michael T. Kornett, who has served as CEO of the organization since 2004. Kornett has announced that he is to step down from the position effective June 30, 2011.

Downs currently serves as General Counsel & Director of Public Health to the Medical Society and Executive Director of the Institute of Medicine & Public Health of NJ – The MSNJ Foundation. He works on health policy initiatives, legislative and regulatory affairs, healthcare quality improvement, and public health matters.   As General Counsel, Downs advises the CEO and Board of Trustees on legal matters and coordinates the work of outside counsel to achieve the Society’s legal objectives.

Before joining MSNJ in 1996, Downs was Director of Cancer Prevention & Control at the American Cancer Society’s (ACS) New Jersey Division where he coordinated statewide public education campaigns on the prevention and early detection of cancers.  He regularly represented the ACS before local governments considering tobacco control ordinances.

Downs also has extensive experience in health policy, public opinion research and media advocacy.   From 1997 to 2006 he served as the Executive Director of the New Jersey Breathes (NJB) coalition. Under his leadership, the coalition of over 40 state-wide agencies was a leading project of the national SmokeLess States Program funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Downs was one of the principal architects of New Jersey’s successful legislative efforts to increase the tax on tobacco products in 1998, 2002 and 2003 and the NJ Smokefree Air Act of 2006.

“We are happy to welcome Larry Downs as he assumes the position of CEO and continue to extend our thanks to Michael Kornett for his leadership and guidance over the years,” stated Dr. Niranjan Rao, a vascular surgeon from New Brunswick and recently installed 219th president of the society. “Larry has been a wonderful resource to both our Board of Trustees and our entire organization, and we are grateful for his continued leadership as we work on issues that affect not only physicians, but also the people of the State of New Jersey.”

Downs received a bachelor’s degree in public health from The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey and a juris doctor degree from Rutgers University School of Law – Camden.  He is a member of the NJ Bar Association’s Health & Hospital Law Section, the American Bar Association and the American Society of Medical Association Counsel. Additionally, Downs was elected to the Executive Board of the Litigation Center of the American Medical Association in 2009.

He currently resides in Cream Ridge, NJ with his wife and daughter.

About MSNJ

Founded in 1766, the Medical Society of New Jersey is the oldest professional society in the United States. The organization and its dues-paying members are dedicated to a healthy New Jersey, working to ensure the sanctity of the physician–patient relationship. In representing all medical disciplines, MSNJ advocates for the rights of patients and physicians alike, for the delivery of the highest quality medical care. This allows response to the patients’ individual, varied needs, in an ethical and compassionate environment, in order to create a healthy Garden State and healthy citizens.

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