Jerome Adams

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Jerome Adams
Official portrait, 2019
20th Surgeon General of the United States
In office
September 5, 2017 – January 20, 2021
PresidentDonald Trump
DeputySylvia Trent-Adams
Erica Schwartz
Preceded byVivek Murthy
Succeeded byVivek Murthy
Health Commissioner of Indiana
In office
October 22, 2014 – September 5, 2017
GovernorMike Pence
Eric Holcomb
Preceded byWilliam VanNess[1]
Succeeded byKristina Box[2]
Personal details
Jerome Michael Adams

(1974-09-22) September 22, 1974 (age 49)
Mechanicsville, Maryland, U.S.
Political partyIndependent
SpouseLacey Adams
EducationUniversity of Maryland, Baltimore County (BA, BS)
Indiana University, Indianapolis (MD)
University of California, Berkeley (MPH)
Uniformed service
Service/branchPHS Commissioned Corps
Years of service2017–2021
Rank Vice Admiral

Jerome Michael Adams[3] (born September 22, 1974) is an American anesthesiologist and a former vice admiral in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps who served as the 20th surgeon general of the United States from September 5, 2017, until January 20, 2021. Prior to becoming Surgeon General, he served as the Indiana state health commissioner, from 2014 to 2017.

On June 29, 2017, President Donald Trump nominated Adams to become Surgeon General of the United States.[4][5] Adams was confirmed by the United States Senate on August 3, 2017.[6] Adams' tenure as Surgeon General coincided with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.[7]

Early life and education[edit]

Adams is the son of Richard and Edrena Adams of Mechanicsville, Maryland, and grew up on the family farm. He attended Chopticon High School, graduating in 1992, in the top 5% of his class.[8] He then attended the University of Maryland Baltimore County through a full-tuition Meyerhoff Scholarship, a grant dedicated to minority students interested in the sciences.[9] Adams received his Bachelor of Science in biochemistry and his Bachelor of Arts in biopsychology. Additionally, Adams studied abroad in the Netherlands and Zimbabwe.[10]

Adams attended medical school at Indiana University School of Medicine as an Eli Lilly and Company Scholar.[9] He also received a Master of Public Health degree from the University of California, Berkeley, in 2000, with a focus on chronic disease prevention.[11] Adams completed his internship in internal medicine (2002–2003) at St. Vincent Indianapolis Hospital and his residency in anesthesiology (2003–2006) at Indiana University. He is board certified in anesthesiology.[12]


Private practice and academia[edit]

After two years in private practice at Ball Memorial Hospital,[13][14] Adams was named assistant professor of anesthesiology at Indiana University.[15][16] He has written several academic papers and book chapters, including chapters in Anesthesia Student Survival Guide: A Case-based Approach,[17] and an editorial in the American Journal of Public Health, "Are Pain Management Questions in Patient Satisfaction Surveys Driving the Opioid Epidemic?"[18]

Indiana state health commissioner[edit]

In October 2014, Adams was appointed Indiana state health commissioner. He was originally appointed by Governor Mike Pence and re-appointed by newly elected governor Eric Holcomb in 2017.[19] In this role, he oversaw the Public Health Protection and Laboratory Services, Health and Human Services, Health Care Quality and Regulatory, and Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Commissions. He also served as Secretary of Indiana State Department of Health's executive board, as Chairman of the Indiana State Trauma Care Committee, as President of the Healthy Hoosier Foundation, and as co-chairman of the Indiana Perinatal Quality Improvement Collaborative Governing Council.[15] During an HIV epidemic in 2015, Adams initially opposed needle-exchange programs on "moral" grounds, but he later changed his position as cases continued to mount.[20]

Surgeon General of the United States[edit]

U.S. vice president Mike Pence swearing in Adams as U.S. Surgeon General on September 5, 2017.

On June 29, 2017, President Donald Trump nominated Adams as surgeon general of the United States.[4] He was confirmed to the position by the Senate on August 3, 2017.[21] Upon his confirmation, Adams said that addressing the opioid epidemic along with untreated mental illness would be two of his major priorities.[6] Adams was sworn in as surgeon general on September 5, 2017,[22] and received his commission shortly after.

In April 2018, Adams urged Americans who are at risk of overdosing on opioids, as well as their family and friends, to carry an over-the-counter antidote to help combat rising fatalities.[23][24] In May 2018, Adams responded to an in-flight medical emergency on a flight to Jackson, Mississippi.[25]

In September 2018, Adams began a campaign along with other public health officials to promote seasonal flu vaccinations. The 2017 flu epidemic had resulted in the deaths of an estimated 80,000 Americans, the highest number of deaths in at least four decades, according to CDC director Robert Redfield. Of the 180 children who died, 80 percent were unvaccinated.[26] [6]

COVID-19 pandemic[edit]

Adams speaking to the White House press corps on COVID-19 in March 2020.

In February 2020, Adams was appointed to the task force for dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.[27] Adams initially downplayed the risk from COVID-19 by comparing it to the flu, which was criticized by experts.[28][29] He also strongly implored people not to buy or use face masks because he said they were “NOT effective” in preventing the general public from catching COVID-19,[30][31] and that wearing a mask could actually increase the risk of catching the virus.[32] This was in line with other health experts, including Anthony Fauci, who were working on limited information at the time.

Adams later retracted this recommendation because he said there was new information about the asymptomatic spread of the virus.[33][34] Politico reported in April 2020 that Adams had been largely sidelined by the administration.[7]

When asked about African-Americans’ increased risks from COVID, Adams replied that “African-Americans and Latinos should avoid alcohol, drugs and tobacco. Do it for your abuela, do it for your granddaddy, do it for your big momma, do it for your pop-pop.” Public health experts criticized his assertions as misleading and lacking adequate context.[35]

Adams expressed concern that the George Floyd protests could lead to a spike in COVID-19 cases. According to Adams, "Based on the way the disease spreads, there is every reason to expect that we will see new clusters and potentially new outbreaks moving forward."[36]

Adams confirmed that he was asked to step down as Surgeon General by the incoming Biden administration. Former surgeon general Vivek Murthy took his place.[37] He officially resigned on January 20, 2021, at the request of President Joe Biden.[38]

Subsequent career[edit]

Following his service as surgeon general, Adams joined Purdue University in October 2021 as a Presidential Fellow and its 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.[39]

Personal life[edit]

Adams is Catholic, and he and his wife Lacey have three children.[40][41]

Awards and decorations[edit]

Field Medical Readiness Badge
Public Health Service Distinguished Service Medal[42] Public Health Service Outstanding Service Medal Public Health Service Presidential Unit Citation[43]
Public Health Service Outstanding Unit Citation Public Health Service Unit Commendation Public Health Service Global Health Campaign Medal
Humanitarian Service Medal Public Health Service Regular Corps Ribbon Commissioned Corps Training Ribbon
Surgeon General Badge Office of the Secretary of Health and Human Services Badge


  1. ^ "Pence names Adams Indiana's health commissioner". October 9, 2014. Retrieved March 25, 2018.
  2. ^ "Indiana Names OB-GYN To Fill Vacated Health Commissioner Seat". September 18, 2017. Retrieved June 10, 2019.
  3. ^ "Nominee Report | U.S. Office of Government Ethics" (PDF). Retrieved February 29, 2020.
  4. ^ a b Joseph, Andrew (June 29, 2017). "Jerome Adams nominated as new U.S. surgeon general". STAT. Retrieved February 27, 2021.
  5. ^ FOX59 Web (June 29, 2017). "President Trump nominates Indiana Health Commissioner Jerome Adams for U.S. Surgeon General". Fox 59. Retrieved June 29, 2017.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  6. ^ a b c Scutti, Susan (August 4, 2017). "Dr. Jerome Adams confirmed as surgeon general". CNN. Retrieved August 4, 2017.
  7. ^ a b Diamond, Dan (April 20, 2020). "Surgeon general gets pushed to sidelines, sparking questions". POLITICO. Retrieved July 12, 2023.
  8. ^ McDaniels, Andrea K. (September 7, 2017). "New surgeon general's science background was nurtured in Maryland". Retrieved February 27, 2021.
  9. ^ a b Wapner, Jessica (July 6, 2017). "Who Is Jerome Adams? Surgeon General Pick Battled HIV Outbreak With Clean Needles in Indiana". Newsweek. Retrieved August 2, 2017.
  10. ^ McDaniels, Andrea K. (September 7, 2017). "New surgeon general's science background was nurtured in Maryland". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved April 16, 2020.
  11. ^ Groppe, Maureen (August 1, 2017). "Jerome Adams promises to put science ahead of politics as surgeon general". USA Today. Retrieved August 2, 2017.
  12. ^ "American Society of Anesthesiologists Congratulates Jerome Adams, M.D., for Surgeon General Nomination". American Society of Anesthesiologists. June 29, 2017. Retrieved August 16, 2017.
  13. ^ Rudavsky, Shari (August 1, 2017). "He helped address Indiana's public health crisis. Can he do the same as surgeon general?". The Indianapolis Star. Retrieved February 28, 2021.
  14. ^ Straehley, Steve; Wallechinsky, David (July 14, 2017). "Surgeon General of the United States: Who Is Jerome Adams?". AllGov. Retrieved February 28, 2021.
  15. ^ a b "Jerome M. Adams, MD". Indiana University School of Medicine. Retrieved April 11, 2020.
  16. ^ "Faculty | Anesthesia | IU School of Medicine". Indiana University School of Medicine. Archived from the original on August 2, 2017. Retrieved April 11, 2020.
  17. ^ Ehrenfeld, Jesse M.; Urman, Richard D.; Segal, Scott, eds. (2016). Anesthesia Student Survival Guide: A Case-based Approach (Second ed.). Cham, Switzerland: Springer. pp. ix, 31–88. ISBN 978-3-319-11083-7. OCLC 944030400.
  18. ^ Adams, Jerome; Bledsoe, Gregory H.; Armstrong, John H. (May 6, 2016). "Are Pain Management Questions in Patient Satisfaction Surveys Driving the Opioid Epidemic?". American Journal of Public Health. 106 (6): 985–986. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2016.303228. PMC 4880256. PMID 27153016.
  19. ^ "ISDH: State Health Commissioner". Archived from the original on April 7, 2017. Retrieved March 25, 2018.
  20. ^ Schumaker, Erin (June 30, 2017). "How An HIV Outbreak Changed Trump's Surgeon General Nominee". HuffPost. Retrieved February 27, 2021.
  21. ^ "PN723 - Nomination of Jerome M. Adams for Public Health Service, 115th Congress (2017-2018)". August 3, 2017. Retrieved February 28, 2021.
  22. ^ Wallace, Amy (September 5, 2017). "New surgeon general to advocate for science, compassion as guides for policy". United Press International. Retrieved April 11, 2020.
  23. ^ CNBC (April 5, 2018). "Surgeon general urges Americans to carry overdose antidote". CNBC. Archived from the original on April 6, 2018. Retrieved April 5, 2018.
  24. ^ "Americans urged to carry overdose antidote in effort to tackle drug deaths". Associated Press. April 5, 2018. Retrieved April 5, 2018.
  25. ^ Leonard, Kimberly (May 16, 2018). "When the Delta crew asked if there was a doctor on board, they got a yes – from the surgeon general". Washington Examiner. Retrieved May 16, 2018.
  26. ^ O'Reilly, Eileen Drage (September 27, 2018). "Last year's flu season killed the most people in the U.S. in 4 decades". Axios. Retrieved February 27, 2021.
  27. ^ Who are the Coronavirus Task Force members?
  28. ^ Law, Tara (April 6, 2020). "Surgeon General Adams Warns of 'Saddest Week of Most Americans' Lives' as COVID-19 Pandemic Spreads". Time.
  29. ^ Stieb, Matt (April 5, 2020). "As White House Tells States to 'Do Your Part,' Governors Ask What Trump Is Doing". New York Intelligencer. New York Intelligencer. Retrieved April 13, 2020.
  30. ^ Cramer, Maria; Sheikh, Knvul (February 29, 2020). "Surgeon General Urges the Public to Stop Buying Face Masks". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved February 27, 2021.
  31. ^ Asmelash, Leah (February 29, 2020). "The surgeon general wants Americans to stop buying face masks". CNN. Retrieved February 27, 2021.
  32. ^ Perrett, Connor (March 2, 2020). "The US Surgeon General once warned against wearing face masks for the coronavirus but the CDC now recommends it". Business Insider. Retrieved February 27, 2021.
  33. ^ "Originally, @CDCgov, @WHO, and my office all recommended against the general public wearing facemasks based on the best available science at the time regarding whether or not they prevent wearers from catching coronavirus. But we are learning more about this disease every day..." Twitter. April 1, 2020.
  34. ^ Huang C, Wang Y, Li X, Ren L, Zhao J, Hu Y, et al. (February 2020). "Clinical features of patients infected with 2019 novel coronavirus in Wuhan, China". Lancet. 395 (10223): 497–506. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30183-5. PMC 7159299. PMID 31986264. icon of an open green padlock
  35. ^ Bunn, Curtis (April 15, 2020). "Black health experts say surgeon general's comments reflect lack of awareness of black community". NBC News. Retrieved April 17, 2020.
  36. ^ Bowden, John (June 2, 2020). "Surgeon general: 'Every reason to expect' coronavirus clusters after protests". The Hill. Retrieved February 27, 2021.
  37. ^ Pitofsky, Marina (January 20, 2021). "Surgeon General Jerome Adams says Biden transition asked him to resign". The Hill. Retrieved January 20, 2021.
  38. ^ Diamond, Dan (January 20, 2021). "Surgeon General resigns at Biden's request". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 20, 2021.
  39. ^ "Purdue Today". Retrieved October 1, 2021.
  40. ^ "VADM Jerome M. Adams, M.D., M.P.H." U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. January 20, 2015. Archived from the original on December 23, 2020. Retrieved March 1, 2020.
  41. ^ Remedios, Jesse (April 16, 2020). "Experts question surgeon general who talks God's 'plan' with pandemic". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved July 6, 2021.
  42. ^ "U.S. Surgeon General resigns at Biden's request: MSNBC |". Reuters. Retrieved February 27, 2021.
  43. ^ "Presidential Unit Citation". Twitter - Assistant Secretary for Health. January 19, 2021. Retrieved January 19, 2021.

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by Surgeon General of the United States
Succeeded by