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Dr. David Satcher

David Satcher, M.D., Ph.D established The Satcher Health Leadership Institute (SHLI) at Morehouse School of Medicine in 2006 as a natural extension of his experience in improving public health policy for all Americans and his commitment to eliminating health disparities for minorities, poor people and other disadvantaged groups. As a champion of improved health care quality and expanded health care access for minorities, Dr. Satcher found himself drawn to Atlanta and the Atlanta University Center (AUC), the largest association of Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the world, for his next challenge. In an environment with a rich history of nurturing minority leaders who engineered the Civil Rights Movement, Dr. Satcher finds both the inspiration and resources to carry out his ambitious mission.

Appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1998 as the 16th Surgeon General of the United States, Dr. Satcher served simultaneously in the positions of Surgeon General and Assistant Secretary of Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. As such, he held the rare rank of full Admiral in the U.S. Public Health Corps, to reflect his dual offices.

During his service as Surgeon General, Dr. Satcher tackled issues that had not previously been addressed at the national level, including mental health, sexual health, and obesity-as well as the disparities that exist in health and health care access and quality for minorities. His groundbreaking reports, particularly around sexual health and behavior, were often controversial. In 2001, his office released The Call to Action to Promote Sexual Health and Responsible Sexual Behavior. The report provoked both controversy and praise, and was hailed by the chairman of the American Academy of Family Physicians as a long overdue paradigm shift. His initial report on mental health, the first Surgeon General’s Report on this important health topic, asserts that mental illness is a critical public health problem that must be addressed by the nation. This report received such an overwhelming response from policy makers, health professionals, community leaders and individuals, that Dr. Satcher went on to issue three other Surgeon General Reports on the topic. The reports he issued as Surgeon General have triggered nationwide efforts of prevention, heightened awareness of important public health issues, and generated major public health initiatives.

These experiences, along with his leadership as the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Administrator of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (1993-1998), provide Dr. Satcher with the expertise, skills and relationships necessary to build a private, not-for-profit institute, that is poised to affect health policy on a national and global scale.

As Surgeon General, director of various government agencies, president of Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee (1982-1993), and as president of the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia (2004-2006), Dr. Satcher has had the opportunity to experience and model effective leadership around health and health policy. Based on his unique set of experiences, his decision to build an institute based on leadership development for minorities is a new and critically necessary approach to addressing our national and global health crises.

In addition to his governmental and academic credentials, Dr. Satcher served as a fellow at the Kaiser Family Foundation and as a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar and Macy Faculty Fellow. He is the recipient of over 30 honorary degrees and numerous distinguished honors, including top awards from the American Medical Association, the American College of Physicians, the American Academy of Family Physicians and Ebony magazine. On March 20, 2007, Dr. Satcher received the Research! America 2007 Raymond and Beverly Sackler Award for Sustained National Leadership. In 1995, he received the Breslow Award in Public Health and in 1997 the New York Academy of Medicine Lifetime Achievement Award. In 1999, he received the Benjamin E. Mays Trailblazer Award and the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Award for Humanitarian Contributions to the Health of Humankind from the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases.

Dr. Satcher graduated from Morehouse College in Atlanta in 1963 and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He received his M.D. and Ph.D. from Case Western Reserve University in 1970 with election to Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society. He completed his residency/fellowship training at Strong Memorial Hospital, the University of Rochester, UCLA and King/Drew. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American College of Preventive Medicine, the American College of Physicians, and the American Psychiatric Association.