Doctor Jerome Adams took office as the 20th Surgeon General of the United States this week, becoming just the fifth Black person to hold the role. Dr. Adams, an anesthesiologist, previously worked as Indiana’s State Health Commissioner under former governor and current Vice President Mike Pence.

Adams was born in the southern Maryland town of Mechanicsville. He attended the University of Maryland, Baltimore County for undergraduate studies before earning his medical degree from Indiana University School of Medicine. Adams also obtained a master’s in public health from UC Berkeley.

While working for Gov. Pence, Adams gained notoriety for tackling Indiana’s HIV outbreak due to needle infections. In his swearing-in ceremony on Tuesday, Adams recalled that he was wary of Pence after hearing that the vice president was an old school, conservative-minded South Indiana type.

Pence had to convince his colleagues as well to take a chance on a Black man who wasn’t born and bred in Indiana yet called the state home after completing his collegiate journey.

Doctor Jocelyn Elders became the first Black Surgeon General in 1993 under President Bill Clinton, serving only one year due to her controversial views on sex education.

Adams and his wife, Lacy, have three children, Caden, Eli, and Millie.

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