Louis Wade Sullivan, MD (Second African-American U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services)

Louis Wade Sullivan was born in 1933 and grew up in rural Georgia. He matriculated at Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA, graduating in 1954 with a BS in premedical programs. Sullivan earned his medical degree from Boston University School of Medicine, entering as the only African-American in his class and graduating third in his class in 1958. Following medical school, Dr. Sullivan trained at New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center.

In the mid-1970s, Dr. Sullivan returned to Morehouse where he helped establish the Morehouse School of Medicine and was appointed founding dean. In 1989, under President George H.W. Bush, Dr. Louis W. Sullivan was appointed U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), making him the second African-American to serve in this role.

Patricia Roberts Harris was the first person and first African-American to serve as secretary of the newly reorganized Department of Health and Human Services in 1980.

After his tenure as Secretary of HHS, Dr. Sullivan returned to Morehouse School of Medicine to serve as two-time dean and president from 1993—2002.

Additionally, Dr. Sullivan was co-chair of the President’s Commission on HIV and AIDS (2001-2006), and chairman of the President’s Commission on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (2002—2009). Currently, he is the Chairman and Founder of the Sullivan Alliance to Transform the Health Professions, and President Emeritus of the Morehouse School of Medicine. For more information on Dr. Sullivan, read his memoir, Breaking Ground: My Life in Medicine (University of Georgia Press, 2014).

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Historical Context