The eighth child of a family of thirteen, Dr. Richard Payne was born on August 24th, 1951,in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Payne's earliest memories are of a household brimming with family and neighborhood activity. Payne attended the local elementary and junior high schools, which were integrated and provided a nourishing and supportive atmosphere. In high school, his interests focused on math and science and after graduating he enrolled in Yale University. After receiving his B.S. from Yale in biophysics and biochemistry, Payne obtained his M.D. at Harvard Medical School.
Payne is one of the foremost experts on pain management and palliative care in the country. He describes palliative care as "total care of patients with cancer." He has worked tirelessly to educate the medical community about the issues and breakthroughs in pain management, co-chairing the expert panel of the Agency for Health Care Policy panel that established clinical guidelines for pain management in cancer patients. Payne was also a member of the Institute of Medicine Committee that evaluated end- of- life care in the United States. Payne has also been involved in programs working to close the disparities in health care access to minorities and poor populations worldwide.
Payne serves as Attending Neurologist and Chief of the Pain & Palliative Care Service at Memorial Sloan - Kettering Cancer Center in New York, New York, in addition to holding the Anne Burnett Tandy Chair in Neurology at the same center. Payne has a wife, Terri, and the couple have two children. They reside in New York.