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Alumnus Jerome Adams tapped to become U.S. Surgeon General

Dr. Jerome Adams, UMBC alumnus and former Indiana Health Commissioner, was confirmed as U.S. Surgeon General last August by President Trump.

During the U.S. Senate hearing for Adams’ confirmation, Adams stated that he understood the “importance of picking science over politics.” He also said that he has a strong desire to “make wellness and community and employer engagement a centerpiece of my agenda” and to tackle issues like the opioid epidemic, obesity and healthcare, among other things.

Adams attended UMBC through a Meyerhoff scholarship and was a double major in biochemistry and biopsychology. “We were really happy for him,” said Keith Harmon, director of the Meyerhoff Scholars Program. “I think it’s a testament to the foundation that folks get here at UMBC and where that education can take them. 

After graduating, Adams studied in Holland and Zimbabwe. When asked about Adams by the “Baltimore Sun,” Dr. Freeman Hrabowski said that “[Adams] was a kid from a small town competing with students from around the world, but he held his own … He was always concerned about other people, he always wanted to help others with the difficulties and challenges they faced.”

Adams believes that the U.S. “won’t be able to solve these problems from Washington, D.C. Our health starts in the communities where we live, learn, work, play and go to school. We need to get out into those communities, learn about their obstacles and successes, share best practices and help empower them to implement local solutions to their toughest problems.”

After graduating from UMBC, Adams attended medical school at Indiana University and earned a master’s degree in public health from the University of California, Berkeley.

Before becoming Surgeon General, Adams was a practicing anesthesiologist and the Indiana Health Commissioner under Governor Mike Pence. During the Senate hearing for Adams’ nomination, Adams described his actions as Indiana Health Commissioner, where he “oversaw [Indiana’s] response to Ebola, Zika and a rural HIV outbreak related to injection drug use, and also oversaw Indiana’s tobacco cessation efforts, the State’s Public Laboratory and its Health Care Quality and Regulatory division.”

While serving as the Indiana Health Commissioner, Adams was responsible for dealing with one of the largest HIV outbreaks in recent history. During a testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Adams said that “in rural Scott County, we are dealing with the largest injection-drug-use-related HIV outbreak in decades, with what CDC Director Tom Frieden described as a higher incidence of HIV than any country in sub-Saharan Africa.”

Adams, whose brother was an addict, is an outspoken advocate towards solving the opioid epidemic. He has stated that “the addictive properties of prescription opioids is a scourge in America and it must be stopped.”

With three children of his own, Adams also stated before the House Energy and Commerce Committee that “when making decisions, I literally have no choice but to think about both the immediate impact on our nation’s children — my own children included — and the world I am leaving for future generations.”