John E. Osborn

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For the American mathematician, see John E. Osborn (mathematician).

John E. Osborn (born September 4, 1957) is an American lawyer, life sciences and healthcare industry executive, and former diplomat who has served in the United States Department of State and as a member of the United States Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy.


Osborn is the son of Patricia (née O'Donovan) and Edward R. Osborn. His father was a lawyer, and his maternal grandfather was a prominent airline industry executive who also worked in the Pentagon and was close to former U.S. Secretary of Defense Louis A. Johnson. He is a distant relative of founding father and colonial American physician Benjamin Rush, and the nephew of former major league baseball broadcaster Gene Osborn.

Early LIfe and Education[edit]

Osborn was born in Davenport, Iowa, attended parochial and public schools there, and graduated from Davenport Central High School in 1975. He studied at The College of William & Mary during 1975-76, and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Iowa in 1979. He later earned a master's degree from the Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, and completed additional graduate work at the Princeton University Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. He earned his law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law, where he was an Articles Editor of the Virginia Journal of International Law and was elected to the Raven Society.


Government and Politics[edit]

Osborn was nominated to the Advisory Commission by President George W. Bush in 2007,[1] and confirmed by the United States Senate on March 13, 2008.[2] The Commission is an independent bipartisan panel established by the United States Congress to assess public diplomacy policies and programs of the U.S. government and of publicly funded nongovernmental organizations, and to report its findings and recommendations to the President and the Congress. During his tenure, the Commission gained attention for its report that was critical of the State Department's human resources policies and practices as they relate to the hiring, training and career development of public affairs and public diplomacy officers.[3] In 2004, Osborn was appointed by Secretary of State Colin Powell to the Board of Governors of the East-West Center, an international education and research center in Honolulu focused on the Asia Pacific region. In 1996, he was a delegate from the State of Delaware to the Republican National Convention in San Diego that endorsed Bob Dole for president. From 1989 to 1992 he served with the State Department, where he supported policy efforts related to German reunification, the first Gulf War, international trade and investment, human rights, and treaty succession in the former Soviet Union. Following law school, he clerked for Judge Albert Vickers Bryan of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. He also worked in the offices of former Congressman Jim Leach of Iowa and the late U.S. Senator H. John Heinz III of Pennsylvania, with the Congressional Budget Office, and was a speechwriter and policy aide on the 1980 and 1988 presidential campaigns of George H.W. Bush. He also served on the Finance Committees of the late Senator William V. Roth, Jr. and the former Governor and Congressman Michael Castle, both of Delaware.

Business and Law[edit]

In the private sector, Osborn has been a senior executive for several prominent firms in life sciences and healthcare, including biopharmaceutical companies Cephalon, Dendreon and Onyx Pharmaceuticals, and the cancer services company US Oncology, Inc. (which now operates as part of McKesson Specialty Health, a unit of McKesson Corporation). Among other things, he brought and settled complex intellectual property litigation that ensured continuing protection for a billion dollar franchise product,[4] resolved government investigations, and persuaded the Congress to enact legislation that changed the export control laws.[5] He also has worked as an advisor to the pharmaceutical and medical products group of McKinsey & Company. Earlier in his career, he practiced corporate law in Boston with Hale and Dorr (now Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr) where he was a member of a U.S. Supreme Court appellate team in a landmark case that struck down the "sale of business" securities law doctrine.[6]

Academic and Non-Profit Organizations[edit]

Osborn holds affiliate faculty appointments in law and international studies at the University of Washington in Seattle, and has held visiting research appointments in socio-legal studies at the University of Oxford[7], where he was a visiting senior member of Wadham College, and in politics at Princeton University, where he was associated with the Bobst Center for Peace and Justice. In 1998 he received an Eisenhower Fellowships award to examine the roots of the conflict in Northern Ireland and the status of the peace process,[8] and in 1991 he was awarded a visiting scholar grant in East European Studies from the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. He has served on the advisory council of the Reves Center for International Studies at The College of William & Mary, the leadership council of the University of Michigan Life Sciences Institute, and the board of advisors of the University of Pennsylvania Institute of Law & Economics. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Fellows of the American Bar Foundation, and the American Law Institute, and has been a trustee of Tower Hill School in Wilmington, Delaware.


Osborn writes a blog column for, and has published extensively on topics concerning law, international affairs and public policy, including notably:

"Can I Tell You the Truth? A Comparative Perspective on Regulating Off-Label Scientific and Medical Information," 10 Yale Journal of Health Policy, Law & Ethics 299 (2010), The article was cited by the majority in United States v. Caronia (2d Cir. 2012),, and was the subject of comment from a U.S. Department of Justice official in an address to the Food & Drug Law Institute (Washington, D.C., September 21, 2010), See also review in Forbes,

"Northern Ireland's Burden of History," 1 Georgetown Journal of International Affairs 57 (Spring 2000);

"A U.S. Perspective on Treaty Succession and Related Issues in the Wake of the Breakup of the USSR and Yugoslavia," 33 Virginia Journal of International Law 261 (Winter 1993). This article was cited in a Memorandum to the White House by the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel in considering the question of the continuing viability of the ABM treaty with the Soviet Union (June 26, 1996),

"On German Reunification," 86 American Journal of International Law 343 (April 1992).




3. "Getting the People Part Right, A Report on the Human Resources Dimension of U.S. Public Diplomacy," (2008), See also "A Reliance on Smart Power -- Reforming the Public Diplomacy Bureaucracy," Hearing of the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Oversight (September 23, 2008),

4.; "Settling for More," IP Law and Business (May 18, 2006); "Settlements Are Legitimate," National Law Journal (September 13, 2006),; "Prescriptions . . . and Payoffs?" CNBC Business Nation (March 2007),;; "FTC Sues Cephalon, Inc. for Unlawfully Blocking Sale of Lower-Cost Generic Versions of Branded Drug Until 2012,";;

5. Osborn also presented expert testimony on antitrust policy before the Antitrust Modernization Commission, which are found at Proceedings on "Antitrust and the New Economy,", and led a legislative effort to enact the Controlled Substances Export Reform Act of 2005,

6. Landreth Timber Company v. Landreth, 471 U.S. 681 (1985),



External links[edit] Contributor Page at

U.S. Advisory Commission official biography at

"Lawdragon 500 Leading Lawyers in America" (September 14, 2007),

List of College of William & Mary alumni

List of University of Iowa people

University of Virginia School of Law

Johns Hopkins Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies