Purdue University announced Thursday that former U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams will be its first executive director of health equity initiatives after being a leader of the nation’s early COVID-19 response as part of former President Donald Trump’s administration.
Adams also will be a presidential fellow and hold faculty positions in the public health and health care engineering programs.
Adams was Indiana’s state health commissioner under then-Gov. Mike Pence. Trump picked him as surgeon general in 2017. He continued in that position until early this year.
Purdue President Mitch Daniels praised Adams for his work caring for patients and for his public health service.
“We are thrilled to have him provide leadership at Purdue and represent Purdue globally in this important strategic area,” Daniels said in a statement.
Adams played a key role in persuading Pence to back a needle exchange program after a 2015 HIV outbreak among intravenous drug users in southern Indiana’s Scott County. Adams, however, faced criticism over his defense of Trump’s argument in early 2020 that most Americans should be more worried about the seasonal flu than the coronavirus.
Adams will be considered a full-time Purdue employee while also working as a doctor at Eskenazi Hospital in Indianapolis, a university spokesman said.