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New surgeon general to advocate for science, compassion as guides for policy

Dr. Jerome Adams will be the 20th surgeon general of the United States.

By
Amy Wallace
Dr. Jerome Adams is sworn in as U.S. Surgeon General by Vice President Mike Pence (R) as Adams' wife Lacy holds the family bible, during a ceremony in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C. on September 5, 2017. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
Dr. Jerome Adams is sworn in as U.S. Surgeon General by Vice President Mike Pence (R) as Adams' wife Lacy holds the family bible, during a ceremony in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C. on September 5, 2017. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

Sept. 5 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump's pick for U.S. surgeon general, anesthesiologist and former Indiana state health commissioner Dr. Jerome Adams, was sworn in by Vice President Mike Pence on Tuesday.

"To be confirmed as the 20th US Surgeon General is truly an indescribable honor," Adams, 42, tweeted in early August after his confirmation by the U.S. Senate.

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Adams takes over as surgeon general after Trump in April dismissed Dr. Vivek Murthy, who was appointed as surgeon general by former President Barack Obama, before his term was finished. Trump appointed Sylvia Trent-Adams to serve as acting surgeon general in the interim.

The U.S. surgeon general oversees the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps., which includes roughly 6,700 public health officers.

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Adams was a staff anesthesiologist and assistant professor of anesthesia at the Indiana University School of Medicine. He earned undergraduate degrees in biochemistry and biopsychology in 1997 from the University of Maryland, a master's degree in public health from the University of California at Berkeley and his medical degree from the Indiana University School of Medicine.

He has served as the health commissioner for the state of Indiana since 2014 after being appointed by Vice President Mike Pence when he was governor of the state.

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Adams has been an advocate for needle exchange programs to prevent the spread of disease, as well as a method of combat against the national opioid epidemic, and started a program while health commissioner in Indiana after an HIV outbreak tied to injection of the prescription drugs.

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He also has spoken publicly about the risks of prescription opioid medications and the need to address the opioid epidemic in the United States.

"The addictive properties of prescription opioids is a scourge in America and it must be stopped," Adams said in his nomination committee statement.

He added that he shared US Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price's top priorities, including "the opioid epidemic, and untreated mental illness, which lie at the root of much of the current situation."

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Adams, a gun owner, also said during his confirmation hearing there are evidence-based programs that can lower gun violence if people are "willing to stop demonizing each other."

When asked during the hearing about placing science and facts at the center of policy-making, Adams said both are important, and that they need to be applied with compassion at the same time.

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