September 30, 2021

Former U.S. surgeon general named Presidential Fellow, to lead health equity initiatives at Purdue

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Dr. Jerome Adams, former Indiana state health commissioner and the 20th U.S. surgeon general, will join Purdue University on Friday (Oct. 1) as a Presidential Fellow and the university’s first executive director of health equity initiatives, professor of practice in the departments of Pharmacy Practice and Public Health and a faculty member of the Regenstrief Center for Healthcare Engineering at Purdue.

The appointment was announced Thursday (Sept. 30) by Purdue President Mitch Daniels.

“Dr. Adams represents the highest level of excellence through decades of caring for patients and service to the nation in public health,” Daniels said. “He has consistently demonstrated commitment for health equity prior to, during and subsequent to his time as surgeon general. We are thrilled to have him provide leadership at Purdue and represent Purdue globally in this important strategic area.”

adams-students Dr. Jerome Adams takes a selfie with students after visiting with them on the Purdue University campus. (Purdue University photo/John Underwood) Download image

Eric Barker, dean of the Purdue College of Pharmacy, and Marion Underwood, dean of Purdue’s College of Health and Human Sciences, said Adams’ leadership will bolster Purdue’s efforts to be a leader in public health and health equity as he works alongside colleagues across multiple colleges and units at Purdue, around the state of Indiana and beyond to elevate the awareness and impact of Purdue’s science-based public health programs, research and engagement.

“We know there are many societal determinants of health that transcend a person’s biology,” Underwood said. “Our efforts both in terms of urban and rural health can address many of these factors. Culture, family backgrounds, socio-economic status, and education all influence health and wellness. The College of Health and Human Sciences is dedicated to improving the health and well-being of individuals, families and communities. We are eager to work alongside Dr. Adams to expand HHS research and outreach in the areas of public health, HHS Extension and beyond.”

Barker added, “Through the extensive learning, research and engagement missions of our College of Pharmacy and, broadly, across the Purdue system and our extensive networks, we have a chance to really study these issues and continue our vital work on initiatives that will improve the health of populations of our state and our nation.”

Pavlos Vlachos, director of the Regenstrief Center, said he expects Adams to be a catalyst to translate Purdue’s research to the health care systems and communities and to ultimately and positively impact population health. 

“Often, some of the best health care technologies, scientific contributions or interventions fail to impact society because they are disconnected from the exact needs of the communities and what is needed for their successful implementation,” Vlachos said.  “Jerome’s long experience and deep understanding of the complex U.S. health care landscape and the current population health challenges will help us best navigate these challenges, and position Purdue as a national and global health care innovation leader.”

Adams, who comes to Purdue after having served as the 20th U.S. surgeon general from September 2017 through January 2021, said he intends to help amplify the efforts of the Purdue Extension program to promote health equity through Indiana and particularly in rural communities, as well as work specifically with the business community to make the case for health equity as workforce and economic issues.

“Purdue is a storied institution that has the legacy, the talent and thanks to President Daniels, the commitment to being a national leader in the promotion of health equity,” Adams said. “Never before in American history has the need been greater or the community been more desirous of such an effort. I’m excited to combine my experiences in public health and public policy with the resources and opportunities afforded by Purdue to help coordinate, amplify and innovate in the health equity space.”

Before his service to the nation, Adams served as Indiana state health commissioner from 2014 through 2017. In that role he oversaw the state’s response to Ebola and Zika, as well as an unprecedented HIV outbreak in southern Indiana and a lead contamination crisis in northern Indiana. Dr. Adams also has served as an associate professor of anesthesia at Eskenazi Health in Indianapolis, where he still sees patients and helps train residents and medical students. 

Adams received his Master of Public Health with a focus on chronic disease prevention from the University of California, Berkeley, and his medical doctorate from Indiana University School of Medicine. His postgraduate internship was at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Indianapolis and he completed his anesthesiology residency at the Indiana University Department of Anesthesia in 2006.

About Purdue University

Purdue University is a top public research institution developing practical solutions to today’s toughest challenges. Ranked in each of the last four years as one of the 10 Most Innovative universities in the United States by U.S. News & World Report, Purdue delivers world-changing research and out-of-this-world discovery. Committed to hands-on and online, real-world learning, Purdue offers a transformative education to all. Committed to affordability and accessibility, Purdue has frozen tuition and most fees at 2012-13 levels, enabling more students than ever to graduate debt-free. See how Purdue never stops in the persistent pursuit of the next giant leap at https://purdue.edu/.

Media contact: Tim Doty, doty2@purdue.edu 


Note to journalists: Photos and video b-roll of Dr. Adams are available on Google Drive. Journalists visiting campus should follow visitor health guidelines.

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