TIME

50 MOST INFLUENTIAL PEOPLE IN HEALTH CARE

The American health care system has been plagued for decades by major problems, from lack of access to uncontrolled costs to unacceptable rates of medical errors. And yet, real as those issues remain, the field has also given rise to extraordinary innovation. This year, TIME launched the Health Care 50 to highlight the people behind those ideas: physicians, scientists, and business and political leaders whose work is transforming health care right now.

DIVYA NAG

Putting a doctor on your wrist

At not even 30, Nag is leading Apple’s special projects focusing on health. Nag’s team developed ResearchKit, an open-source app developer for doctors and researchers to share patient results and clinical data, and this fall it announced groundbreaking new tools for the Apple Watch: the Series 4 includes an emergency-response system, in case the wearer falls and doesn’t respond, and a medical-grade EKG heart-rate monitor.

DR. ORRIN DEVINSKY

Revolutionizing medical marijuana

Thirty-one states have legalized medical marijuana, and in June, cannabis went even more mainstream: GW Pharmaceuticals’ Epidiolex became the first FDA-approved marijuana-derived drug. The epilepsy medication was spurred by Devinsky’s research at New York University proving that purified CBD, a compound in pot, can reduce patients’ seizure frequency without making them high.

DR. LEANA WEN

FIGHTING THE POLITICS OF MEDICINE

As health commissioner for Baltimore, Wen has proved herself a force in the often politically fraught world of public health. In 2015, she chose a remarkably pragmatic—but unusual—method of addressing the opioid epidemic ravaging her town. With nearly 90% of overdose deaths due to opioids, she wrote a blanket, citywide prescription for the overdose-reversing drug naloxone, valid for every citizen willing to fill it. To date, her bold action is credited with saving nearly 3,000 lives. For Wen, an emergency-room physician who has administered naloxone to patients herself, it was an obvious solution to treat the disease of opioid addiction.

Now she wants to bring that same straightforward approach to her new job; Wen steps in as the new president of Planned Parenthood in November. As the first physician to lead the organization in nearly 50 years, she hopes to lift the group above the politically divisive fray by reminding people that it offers necessary, and in many places desperately needed, medical services, including mammograms and infertility and incontinence treatments. “We’re not here to make a political statement,” she says. “We’re here to provide health care to those who need us, and we will have to continue to fight to defend that access to care, because others, not us, have been distorting the work that we do.”

She faces a formidable challenge

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from TIME

TIME2 min read
Will A Law Permitting Player Payments Ruin College Sports?
ON SEPT. 30, AFTER CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR Gavin Newsom signed into law SB 206—a bill that allows the state’s college athletes to profit from their names, images and likenesses and to sign endorsement deals despite NCAA rules forbidding them—state lawmak
TIME2 min read
Love Fleabag? Meet Miri
EVEN BEFORE IT DOMINATED THE Emmys, Fleabag was bound to loom large over Showtime’s Back to Life. Aside from sharing a pair of executive producers, Harry and Jack Williams, both British imports cast their creator-stars as women who’ve been deemed ter
TIME11 min readPolitics
Trump’s Conspiracy Cops
THE WARNING SIGNS WERE THERE. IN A tweet or offhand remark, President Donald Trump would touch on what he said Ukraine had done to him during the 2016 election. Top Administration officials got an earful. Foreign leaders were treated to the stories.