1950-03-09

MARK MERLIS, who died on this date, was an American writer and health policy analyst. Born in Framingham, Massachusetts and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, Merlis attended Wesleyan University and Brown University. 

He subsequently took a job with the Maryland Department of Health to support himself while writing. In 1987, he took a job with the Congressional Research Service at the Library of Congress as a social legislation specialist, and was involved in the creation of the Ryan White Care Act.

Beginning in the 1990s, Merlis published a series of novels. His first novel, American Studies, won the Ferro-Grumley Award for LGBT Literature and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction in 1995, and his second, An Arrow’s Flight, won the 1999 Lambda Literary Award for Gay Fiction. Merlis lived in Philadelphia, with his husband Bob Ashe, and continued to work as an independent health policy consultant up until his disease made it impossible. He died from complications of ALS.