President Donald Trump nominated Indiana State Health Commissioner and UC Berkeley alumnus Jerome Adams to be the nation’s surgeon general Thursday.
He will replace Rear Admiral Sylvia Trent-Adams, who is currently serving as the interim surgeon general after Vivek Murthy resigned from his position in April.
According to Eileen Pearl, campus Public Health Alumni Association executive director, Adams received his master’s degree in public health from UC Berkeley in 2000.
Adams is also currently an assistant professor at Indiana University School of Medicine and serves as a staff anesthesiologist and the chair of the Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee at Eskenazi Health, according to his faculty page.
Adams has also been known for his advocacy of the needle exchange program after an HIV outbreak in Indiana. The needle exchange program provides free sterile needles and syringes to persons who inject drugs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC’s, page on syringe services programs.
“Syringe exchanges aren’t pretty. They make people uncomfortable. But the opioid epidemic is far uglier,” Adams wrote in an Indiana State Department of Health statement. “No matter how uncomfortable syringe service programs make us, they are proven to save lives, both by preventing the spread of diseases like HIV and hepatitis C and by connecting people to treatment that can put them on a path to recovery.”
Colette Auerswald, an associate professor in the campus public health department, said it is important that an evidence-based leader such as Adams will be leading the CDC.
“Dr. Adams had to deal with a really rampant and threatening opioid epidemic,” Auerswald said. “What’s important is that we … have a leader that is trained in the right fields.”
Stefano Bertozzi, the dean of the School of Public Health, said he is thrilled that one of UC Berkeley’s graduates will become the surgeon general.
“While I don’t know him personally, I have heard of his successful efforts to convince the political leadership in Indiana to more effectively combat the injecting drug use epidemic, including efforts to implement harm reduction programs to decrease the risk of transmission of HIV and other blood-borne diseases,” Bertozzi said in an email. “I hope that we will be able to work with him to improve population health across the country.”
Cal Berkeley Democrats President and campus senior Caiden Nason acknowledged that Adams significantly helped curb the opiate crisis and played an active role during the “massive” HIV outbreak in Indiana.
“I hope Adams uses his position to advocate for drug treatment rather than punishment and that his position will not be politicized by himself or anyone else,” Nason said.