ISMA’s Jerome Adams becomes U.S. surgeon general

Indiana State Health Commissioner Jerome Adams, MD, MPH, an ISMA member, has been confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the new surgeon general of the United States. 

In his new post, Dr. Adams will lead the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps for a four-year term. The surgeon general is sometimes called “the nation’s doctor.”

“We’re ecstatic that the talent and skills of our longtime ISMA member have been recognized on the national stage,” said ISMA President Thomas Whiteman, MD. “We’ve watched him grow into a transformational health care leader here in Indiana and are confident he will do great things as U.S. surgeon general.”

Dr. Adams, who was first appointed Indiana health commissioner by then-Governor and current U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, drew bipartisan support from members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee during his confirmation hearing Tuesday. Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., and Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., also issued a joint letter of endorsement for Dr. Adams.

“As our Indiana State Health Commissioner and a highly regarded anesthesiologist, he has the experience and demonstrated leadership to promote the public health and bring awareness to some of our more pressing public health challenges as our nation’s top physician,” the letter said.

“Dr. Adams has worked tirelessly to combat the opioid epidemic, reduce infant mortality, and lower Indiana’s high smoking rates.”

At his confirmation hearing, Dr. Adams spoke repeatedly of his goal to pursue science-based solutions to public health problems, while also empathizing with those affected. He said that approach was key to implementing measures, including a syringe exchange program, that helped control an outbreak of HIV linked to injectable drug abuse in Scott County.

“I always want to lead with science … but I also want to listen to what stakeholders are saying and what patients are saying,” Dr. Adams told the panel. “That’s the lesson that I learned.”

Dr. Adams succeeds Rear Admiral Sylvia Trent-Adams, who has served as acting surgeon general since the previous appointee, Vivek Murthy, MD, stepped down in April.