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David Satcher

Admiral David Satcher, USPHS
10th Assistant Secretary for Health
16th Surgeon General of the United States

In office
13 February 1998 – 5 August 2002
Preceded by Audrey F. Manley
Succeeded by Richard Carmona

Born March 2, 1941 (1941-03-02) (age 68)
Anniston, Alabama, USA
Political party Democratic

David Satcher, M.D., Ph.D. FAAFP, FACPM, FACP (born 2 March 1941) is an American physician, and public heath administrator. He was a four-star admiral in the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps and served as the 10th Assistant Secretary for Health, and the 16th Surgeon General of the United States.



Early years

Satcher was born in Anniston, Alabama. At the age of two, he contracted whooping cough. A black doctor, Jackson, came to his parents' farm, and told his parents he didn't expect David to live, but nonetheless spent the day with him, and told his parents how to give him the best chance he could. Satcher said that he grew up hearing that story, and that inspired him to be a doctor.[1]

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 residency/fellowship training at the Strong Memorial Hospital, University of Rochester, UCLA School of Medicine, and Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Hospital. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American College of Preventive Medicine, and the American College of Physicians. Satcher is a member of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Incorporated.


Satcher has served as professor and Chairman of the Department of Community Medicine and Family Practice at Morehouse School of Medicine from 1979 to 1982. He is a former faculty member of the UCLA School of Medicine and Public Health and the King-Drew Medical Center in Los Angeles, where he developed and chaired the King-Drew Department of Family Medicine. From 1977 to 1979, he served as the interim Dean of the Charles R. Drew Postgraduate Medical School, during which time, he negotiated the agreement with UCLA School of Medicine and the Board of Regents that led to a medical education program at King-Drew. He also directed the King-Drew Sickle Cell Research Center for six years. Satcher served as President of Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee, from 1982 to 1993. He also held the posts of Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Administrator of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry from 1993 to 1998.

Surgeon General

Vice Admiral David Satcher, USPHS

Satcher served simultaneously in the positions of Surgeon General and Assistant Secretary for Health from February 1998 through January 2001 at the US Department of Health and Human Services. As such, he is the first Surgeon General to be appointed as a four-star admiral in the PHSCC, to reflect his dual offices.

In his first year as Surgeon General, Satcher released the 1998 Surgeon General's report, "Tobacco Use Among U.S. Racial/Ethnic Minority Groups." In it he reported that tobacco use was on the rise among youth in each of the country's major racial and ethnic groups threatening their long-term health prospects.[2]

Satcher was appointed by Bill Clinton, and remained Surgeon General until 2002, contemporaneously with the first half of the first term of President George W. Bush's administration. Eve Slater would later replace him as Assistant Secretary for Health in 2001. Because he no longer held his dual office, Satcher was reverted and downgraded to the grade of vice admiral in the regular corps for the remainder of his term as Surgeon General. In 2001, his office released the report, The Call to Action to Promote Sexual Health and Responsible Sexual Behavior. The report was hailed by the chairman of the American Academy of Family Physicians as an overdue paradigm shift—"The only way we're going to change approaches to sexual behavior and sexual activity is through school. In school, not only at the doctor's office." However, conservative political groups denounced the report as being too permissive towards homosexuality and condom distribution in schools.

Post-Surgeon General

Upon his departure from the post of Satcher became a fellow at the Kaiser Family Foundation. In the fall of 2002, he assumed the post of Director of the National Center for Primary Care at the Morehouse School of Medicine.

On 20 December 2004, Satcher was named interim president at Morehouse School of Medicine until John E. Maupin, Jr., former president of Meharry Medical College assumed the current position on 26 February 2006. In June 2006, Satcher established the Satcher Health Leadership Institute (SHLI) at Morehouse School of Medicine as a natural extension of his experience in improving public health policy for all Americans and his commitment to eliminating health disparities for minorities, the poor and other disadvantaged groups.

He now sits on the board of Johnson & Johnson.

Criticisms of health inequality

While acknowledging progress, Satcher has criticized health disparities. He asked the question, “What if we had eliminated disparities in health in the last century?” and calculated that there would have been 83,500 fewer black deaths in the year 2000. That would have included 24,000 fewer black deaths from cardiovascular disease. If infant mortality had been equal across racial and ethnic groups in 2000, 4,700 fewer black infants would have died in their first year of life. Without disparities, there would have been 22,000 fewer black deaths from diabetes and almost 2,000 fewer black women would have died from breast cancer; 250,000 fewer blacks would have been infected with HIV/AIDS and 7,000 fewer blacks would have died from complications due to AIDS in 2000. As many as 2.5 million additional blacks, including 650,000 children, would have had health insurance in that year. He called on people to work for solutions at the individual, community, and policy level.[3]

Satcher supports a Medicare-for-all style single payer health plan, in which insurance companies would be eliminated and the government would pay health care costs directly to doctors, hospitals and other providers through the tax system.[4]

At Meharry, Satcher founded the Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved.

Awards and honors

He is the recipient of many honorary degrees and numerous distinguished honors, including the Public Health Service Distinguished Service Medal and top awards from the American Medical Association, the American College of Physicians, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and Ebony magazine. In 1995, he received the Breslow Award in Public Health and in 1997 the New York Academy of Medicine Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2004, he received the Bennie Mays Trailblazer Award and the Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter Award for Humanitarian Contributions to the Health of Humankind from the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases. An academic society at the Case Western School of Medicine is named in his honor.

He is also an avid jogger and enjoys tennis, gardening, and reading. He and his wife, Nola, have four adult children.

Satcher delivered the Commencement Address at Case Western Reserve University in May 2009.


  1. ^ David Satcher. Interview with Tavis Smiley. The Tavis Smiley Show. 16 March 2008. (Interview). Retrieved on 2008-01-17.
  2. ^ U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (27 April 1998). "Surgeon General's Report Warns of HEalth Reversals as Minority Teen Smoking Increases". Press release. Retrieved 2008-01-17.  
  3. ^ Satcher, David (24 October 2006). "Ethnic Disparities in Health: The Public's Role in Working for Equality". PLoS Med 3 (10): e405. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0030405. Retrieved 2008-01-17.  
  4. ^ Physicians for a National Health Program (12 February 2003). "Physicians Propose Solution to Rising Health Care Costs and Uninsured". Press release. Retrieved 2008-01-17.  

External links

Went To C.E. Hanna Elementary School Hobson City, Alabama 36203 (formerly Calhoun County Training academy)

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