After being selected by President Donald Trump to serve as the new Surgeon General of the United States, Dr. James Adams has officially been sworn into the position.
Adams will serve a four-year term and takes over for Sylvia Trent-Adams, who served as the acting surgeon general since April 21 when Trump dismissed Vivek Murthy. Murthy had served in the role since December 18, 2014 and was nominated by President Barack Obama.
Adams, a physician anesthesiologist, has a long-tenured history in the health industry and is from Vice President Mike Pence‘s home state of Indiana.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Adams Served as the Indiana State Health Commissioner
Adams was first appointed by Pence — when he was governor — to serve as Indiana’s Health Commissioner on October 22, 2014 and was re-appointed January 9, 2017 by Governor Eric J. Holcomb.
In the role, Adams oversees a number of branches of the state’s health departments: Public Health Protection and Laboratory Services, Health and Human Services, Health Care Quality and Regulatory, and Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Commissions.
In addition to serving as the health commissioner, he’s also the secretary of the Indiana State Department of Health’s executive board and is also the chairman of the Indiana State Trauma Care Committee.
On multiple occasions, Adams has been invited to testify in front of the Congress. First, he testified in front of the Senate Committee on Aging and then also did so in front of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Energy and Commerce committee. He’s also been to the White House to participate in a number of healthcare discussions.
2. Trump & Adams Met in November 2016 Before He Took Office
In November 2016, shortly after Trump was elected the 45th president of the U.S., Adams was invited to meet with him to talk about healthcare and a number of other topics.
Trump’s transition team said that he and Adams specifically talked about “improving the doctor-patient relationship, the challenges Americans face each day with the Affordable Care Act, and health policy issues,” STAT News reported.
According to the Indianapolis Star, Adams’ meeting with Trump came at the end of a day when the transition team was meeting with people that were “potential leaders being considered for positions” inside the new administration.
One day before he met with Trump, Adams tweeted that he was the first responder after a serious car accident. He said that he waited with the passenger until paramedics arrived on scene.
3. Adams Has Been Outspoken About the Opioid Epidemic
Adams is an anesthesiologist who holds a master’s degree in public health and was a key player in navigating Indiana’s response to an HIV epidemic directly associated with drug use in 2015.
Perhaps part of the reason Trump selected Adams as the Surgeon General nominee is because of his initiative to curb the opioid abuse outbreak. Adams has been outspoken in the past about the best way to fight opioid abuse and adiction.
Adams spoke in 2015 to the Food and Drug Administration committee on the safety of Opana, an opiate. He was an advocate to have the drug pulled from the market after 215 cases of HIV were reported in Indiana, saying nearly all of them injected Opana prior to being diagnosed with the disease.
“I would respectfully suggest that we’re here today not so much to look back at what happened,” Adams said to the committee. “But to make sure it doesn’t happen in another community. You need to ask yourself, ‘Are you helping more people than you’re hurting?”
4. Adams Serves as an Assistant Professor at Indiana’s School of Medicine
Adams, who earned his medical degree from Indiana University’s School of Medicine, currently works as an assistant professor of clinical anesthesia at the school and also works as a staff anesthesiologist at Eskenazi Health. At Eskenazi, he’s the chairman of the Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee.
In his role at Indiana University, he instructs residents, medical students, paramedics and dentists on the use of anesthesia. According to Adams’ LinkedIn page, He’s a member of the American Society of Anesthesiologists’ Professional Diversity Committee and also sits as an examiner on the American Board of Anesthesiologists. He previously served as the assistant treasurer of Indiana State Medical Association’s Board of Trustees and Executive Committee.
5. Adams Studied Under a Nobel Prize Winner
While he earned his M.D. from Indiana University on a full scholarship, he had a lot of schooling before that. He earned a master’s in public health and interdisciplinary/chronic disease from the University of California-Berkeley in 2000. His thesis project at the school involved working with the city to help them develop a chronic disease prevention plan. He also went to the school on a full scholarship.
Adams earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland-Baltimore County in 1997. He double majored in biochemistry and biopsychology. He also earned his undergrad on a full scholarship and worked on medical research projects in Zimbabwe and the Netherlands. At the school, he worked under Nobel Prize winner Dr. Tom Cech.
Adams is married and has three children. The family currently resides in Fishers, Indiana.