Louis W. Sullivan
Physician and 17th Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Louis W. Sullivan was born in Atlanta, Ga., on November 3, 1933. The youngest of two sons, Sullivan knew at an early age that he wanted to be a doctor. Following his dream, Sullivan entered Morehouse College's premedical program in 1950 and graduated magna cum laude in 1954. Immediately after graduation, Sullivan entered Boston University Medical School on scholarship. Earning his medical degree in 1958, Sullivan ranked third in his class and was the only graduating African American.
He received a bachelor of science degree, magna cum laude, from Morehouse College in 1954, and earned his medical degree, cum laude, from Boston University in 1958. His internship and medical residency were at New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center. After a pathology fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital from 1960-1961, Dr. Sullivan was a fellow in hematology at the Thorndike Memorial Research Laboratories of Harvard Medical School at Boston City Hospital until 1964.
Following his fellowship, Dr. Sullivan held positions at Harvard Medical School, Seton Hall College of Medicine and the Jersey City Medical Center. In 1967, he founded the Boston University Hematology Service at Boston City Hospital and later was director of the Boston Sickle Cell Center.
In an unprecedented move, Dr. Sullivan left Boston in 1975 to become the founding dean and director of the Medical Education Program at Morehouse College, an historically Black college. During the next few years, Dr. Sullivan and dedicated colleagues developed a curriculum, recruited more staff, and opened its doors to 24 students in 1978. In April 1985, the Morehouse School of Medicine was fully accredited as a four-year medical school.
Dr. Sullivan took a leave of absence from Morehouse to become the 17th Secretary of Health and Human Services. He was sworn in on March 10, 1989. As Secretary, Dr. Sullivan championed vulnerable populations and was a strong advocate for increased medical research pertaining to racial and ethnic minorities.
Since returning to Morehouse School of Medicine, Dr. Sullivan and the school continue to gain notoriety. The Association of American Medical Colleges ranked Morehouse No. 1 in 1993, 1995 and 1999 among medical schools in the percentage of graduates in primary care practices. In 2000, 75 percent of Morehouse graduates entered primary care residencies, more than four times the national average.
Dr. Sullivan is a true pioneer for African Americans in the field of medicine.