“Striving for a world where we can all thrive, and not just survive…”
Fighting for equitable access, better prevention, and opportunities for all to be healthy!
I was born in rural Southern Maryland, surrounded by tobacco farms and crab fisherman. As a child with severe asthma who lived almost 2 hours from the nearest pediatric specialty hospital, I experienced first hand our National problems with healthcare access and equity. Despite almost not living past childhood, I went on to obtain degrees in Biochemistry and Psychology from UMBC, and then a Medical Degree from Indiana University, and a Masters Degree in Public Health from the University of California at Berkeley.
After medical school I spent several years as a private practice anesthesiologist before being recruited back to Indiana University. There I spent 9 years teaching medical students and residents and rising to the rank of Associate Professor. In 2017 I was selected to lead the Indiana State Department of Health, and during my tenure I helped address the State’s infant mortality, opioid epidemic, Ebola and Zika crises. With the help of many partners, I oversaw the State’s legalization of syringe service programs to respond to Hepatitis and HIV infections related to injection drug misuse.
In 2017 I was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate to serve as the 20th United States Surgeon General. During my tenure I issued advisories urging Americans to carry Naloxone, warning children and pregnant women about the dangers of vaping and marijuana use, and urging more focus on suicide prevention. My office published historic Surgeon General’s reports on Smoking Cessation, and on the links between Community Health and Economic Prosperity- the latter detailing ways businesses can build healthier communities and a healthier bottom line. I also served on the White House Coronavirus task force, urging Americans to take precautions to protect themselves and their communities from COVID-19, and to get vaccinated!
I am currently a Distinguished Professor and the Director of Health Equity Initiatives at Purdue University, and teach clinical anesthesia at Eskenazi Health in downtown Indianapolis. I’m a medical correspondent for WISH-TV, and serve as Chairman of the Association of Diversity in Clinical Trials. My passion lies in raising awareness of and addressing social drivers of health. I want to help build communities where no one faces barriers to making healthy choices.