David Stark

David Stark

Jul 12, 2024

Chief Medical Officer

Overseeing the health and wellbeing of 80,000 people in 40 countries requires expertise in medicine, data and public health – which makes David Stark uniquely qualified for his role as Morgan Stanley’s Chief Medical Officer and Global Head of Benefits. A pediatric neurologist by training as well as a seasoned biomedical informaticist, Stark brings both his experience in treating patients and his expertise in data and human capital to his role as a hands-on leader making decisions that affect every Morgan Stanley employee.  


Virtually every aspect of Stark’s training and experience contributes to his current role. After getting his BS from Yale University in neurobiology, Stark graduated from Harvard Medical School. He completed a residency in pediatrics and a fellowship in pediatric neurology. Later, he was awarded a research fellowship and earned a master’s degree in biomedical informatics from Stanford University. Before joining Morgan Stanley in 2018, he was a member of Mount Sinai Health System’s faculty and served as medical director of its Institute for Next Generation Healthcare at the Icahn School of Medicine, which innovates data- and technology-driven healthcare solutions. 

Stark’s background gives him insight into all aspects of healthcare, from life sciences and biomedical innovation to the needs of people and populations. See how his unique perspective allows Morgan Stanley to be on the leading edge of bringing together data-driven health management with a comprehensive approach to benefits, delivering greater impact for both the firm and employees.  



How is your role at Morgan Stanley different than that of your counterparts at other organizations? 


Typically, a large employer might have a medical director or chief medical officer who is responsible for environmental health and safety. This is often an operational risk management role, ensuring safe working conditions and regulatory compliance. Separately, an employer’s human resources team will provide healthcare and other employee benefits. Those groups often operate independently from each other. 


At Morgan Stanley, both of these responsibilities fall under my purview, which is how the role should be structured. If your job is managing the health of a large population, you need to understand and have your hands on the levers of how healthcare gets purchased. Conversely, if you’re responsible for HR benefits, you need healthcare and medical expertise and direct oversight of clinical programs to ensure access to high quality care while simultaneously managing costs. 



How can a company like Morgan Stanley affect the health of its employees? 


Employers have a unique opportunity when it comes to affecting health. First, when it comes to healthcare, employers’ and their employees’ interests are aligned. Companies like Morgan Stanley perform better when their employees are healthy, happy and engaged. And when employees are healthy, healthcare costs come down for individuals and for their employers, who generally foot most of the bill.  


Second, employees spend a good deal of time at work, and employers can use this proximity to engage their populations on health and wellbeing matters, while promoting healthy lifestyles. We know how to reach our people–whether at the office, online, on the go or through our robust employee networks. Contrast that with the rest of the healthcare system, where it can be very difficult to engage individuals outside of a doctor’s office.  


The third factor is trust. Surveys like the Edelman Trust Barometer consistently demonstrate that employees generally trust their employers more than other major institutions such as government entities, media and non-governmental organizations.  


Together, these three factors – alignment, proximity and trust – afford employers the unique opportunity and responsibility to have a positive impact on the health of their workforce.  



Let’s talk about the role that data and analytics play in your job.  


Healthcare in the U.S. is a $4.5 trillion industry, with employers collectively providing healthcare for more than 150 million Americans. For most employers, healthcare is the second leading expense after compensation. And healthcare benefits factor heavily into business goals related to workforce recruitment, retention, productivity and engagement.  


For more than a decade, in service of these goals – and fueled as well by the pandemic, shifts in labor dynamics and other external forces – employers have invested in a dizzying array of solutions to increase access to affordable healthcare and other benefits. While well-intentioned, this proliferation of health and benefits solutions has led to confusion among employers and their employees trying to navigate these offerings, and it becomes difficult to know what’s working and what isn’t.  


That’s why we use data and analytics –to continuously review how our programs are meeting the needs of our employees and their families and supporting our business objectives. Across each of our programs, we monitor utilization, cost, employee experience and the specific health outcomes that the program was designed to address. We benchmark against our peers, conduct market research and work with our vendors and other stakeholders to improve our offerings.  



Has anything in the data ever surprised you? 


Nearly two-thirds (65%) of Morgan Stanley employees report that their benefits directly factored into their decision to take a job, stay in their job or be more productive in their job here. This is a significant positive finding – more than you might expect, given the multitude of variables that go into such decisions. Our data also helped us lean in on family support as a key initiative, including parenting, childcare and eldercare benefits, support for adoption and coverage for fertility treatments. And data tells us where we need to be better – for example, driving initiatives to improve lower-than-expected colorectal cancer screening rates. 



Are there other responsibilities within your job?  


I sit on the board of the Morgan Stanley Foundation, which has a focus on children's physical and mental health, and serve on the advisory board of the Morgan Stanley Alliance for Children's Mental Health. It’s been rewarding to help guide those charitable investments and strategic initiatives. 


I also helped to launch and serve on the Firm’s Global Wellbeing Board, which is a group of senior leaders across the firm’s geographies and business lines. The group’s goal is to set strategy around our mental health and wellbeing initiatives.  


I also sit on the Investment Committee of Morgan Stanley’s Inclusive Venture Lab, our in-house startup accelerator that supports businesses led by founders from underrepresented backgrounds.  


Through these responsibilities, I’m able to draw on the Firm’s diverse intellectual capital, capabilities and relationships to create a culture of health internally for our workforce and externally with the clients we serve and the communities in which we operate. 



What excites you about the potential for better healthcare management on the horizon?  


We’re witnessing a period of accelerated innovation across life sciences and care delivery. New cell and gene therapies coming to market are curing diseases that used to be untreatable. We need to innovate around financing and delivery models to make these treatments accessible and affordable. And we need aligned financial and business incentives to encourage collaboration.  


As both an employer and a financial services institution, Morgan Stanley works with companies innovating across this ecosystem. It’s at these intersections – between life sciences and care delivery, between healthcare and finance -- that we can catalyze change and have widespread impact. 



CRC#3707734 (07/2024)