HealthEquity-e1430160356168Every day millions of Americans experience health disparities primarily because of their race or ethnicity, sex, or socioeconomic status. Disparities are evident in disease outcomes including deaths, complications and even access to health services and support. We believe that the answer resides in turning the focus from disparities – moving past equality to equity.

Equity involves not giving everyone the same intervention but rather giving each what they need to have the same health as the next. Please see this section for content that highlights why equity is both essential and possible in our quest to make a difference.


  • David Satcher, MD, Ph.D.
    David Satcher, MD, Ph.D.
  • George Rust, MD, MPH
    George Rust, MD, MPH
  • Louis W. Sullivan, MD
    Louis W. Sullivan, MD
David Satcher, MD, Ph.D.

Dr. David Satcher 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.He not only is a champion of promoting healthy lifestyles, he is also an avid rower and enjoys tennis, gardening, and reading.

Born in Anniston, Alabama on March 2, 1941, Dr. Satcher and his wife, Nola, a poet, reside in Atlanta, Georgia, and have four grown children and four grandchildren.

George Rust, MD, MPH

Dr. George Rust, Professor of Family Medicine and the founding Director of the National Center for  Primary Care at Morehouse School of Medicine, has spent his career as a family physician and scholar  and has consistently focused on primary health care for those in greatest need. Listen below as he speaks passionately about “Diabetes Disparities to Diabetes Health Equity”.

George Rust MD, MPH is a Professor of Family Medicine and is the founding Director of the National Center for Primary Care (NCPC) at Morehouse School of Medicine and currently serves as co-director  with Dr. Dominic Mack. The NCPC’s mission is to promote excellence in community oriented care and optimal health outcomes for all Americans. He received his medical degree from Loyola University School of Medicine and completed his residency training in Family Medicine at Cook County Hospital in Chicago. He is board-certified in both family practice and preventive medicine and holds a masters of public health. Dr. Rust was the founding director of the Morehouse School of Medicine Faculty Development Program, which has expanded to conduct executive faculty development for minority faculty across the nation. He is the former chair of the Atlanta Community Access Coalition and former co-chair of Georgia’s Minority Health Advisory Council, where he led development of the Georgia Health Disparities Report in 2008. He also served as acting chairman of the Morehouse School of Medicine’s Department of Family Medicine and, in 1994, was named Family Practice Educator of the Year by the Georgia Academy of Family Physicians. Before coming to Morehouse School of Medicine in 1991, Dr. Rust served for six years as medical director of a large community and migrant health center in central Florida. Dr. Rust is the author of numerous publications and is a frequent presenter on clinical topics, as well as on teaching, grant writing, and research. His passion is for improving primary health care for underserved populations.

Additional resources to download:

Diabetes – From Disparities to Health Equity BMS

– Feb 2014

Louis W. Sullivan, MD

Dr. Louis W. Sullivan, a leading authority in health for over six decades, has committed his career to improving health equity for people worldwide. From establishing a medical school to serving as secretary of Health and Human Services, Dr. Sullivan is a pioneer in health and his views on health equity are powerful.

Louis W. Sullivan, M.D., is chairman of the board of the National Health Museum in Atlanta, Georgia, whose goal is to improve the health of Americans by enhancing health literacy and advancing healthy behaviors.  He also is chairman of the Washington, D.C.-based Sullivan Alliance to Transform America’s Health Professions. He was the founding dean and first president of Morehouse School of Medicine and is now President Emeritus.  He served as chair of the President’s Commission on Historically Black Colleges and Universities from 2002-2009, and was co-chair of the President’s Commission on HIV and AIDS from 2001-2006.

With the exception of his tenure as secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) from 1989 to 1993, Dr. Sullivan was president of Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM) for more than two decades.  On July 1, 2002, he retired and was appointed president emeritus.  He continues to support the school, including its national fund-raising activities.

Dr. Sullivan became the founding dean and director of the Medical Education Program at Morehouse College in 1975.  The program became The School of Medicine at Morehouse College in 1978, admitting its first 24 students to a two-year program in the basic medical sciences.  In 1981, the school received provisional accreditation of its four year curriculum leading to the M.D. degree, became independent from Morehouse College and was re-named Morehouse School of Medicine, with Dr. Sullivan as dean and president.  In 1983, MSM became a member of the Atlanta University Center (AUC).  MSM was fully accredited as a four-year medical school in April 1985 and awarded its first 16 M.D. degrees in May of that year.

Dr. Sullivan left MSM in 1989 to accept an appointment by President George H.W. Bush to serve as secretary of HHS.  In this cabinet position, Dr. Sullivan managed the federal agency responsible for the major health, welfare, food and drug safety, medical research and income security programs serving the American people.

His efforts to improve the health and health behavior of Americans included (1) the introduction of a new and improved FDA food label; (2) the release of Healthy People 2000, a guide for improved health promotion/disease prevention activities;  (3) educated the public about the health dangers from tobacco use; (4) led the successful efforts to prevent the introduction of “Uptown,” a non-filtered, mentholated cigarette; (5) inaugurated a $100 million minority male health and injury prevention initiative; and (6) implemented greater gender and ethnic diversity in senior positions of HHS, including the appointment of the first female director of the National Institutes of Health, the first female (and first Hispanic) Surgeon General of the U.S. Public Health Service, the first African American Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, and the first African-American Administrator of the Health Care Financing Administration.  In January 1993, he returned to MSM   and resumed the office of president.

In March 2008, Dr. Sullivan was appointed to the new Grady Hospital Corporation Board of Trustees.  In June, 2008, Dr. Sullivan accepted appointments to (a) the Health Disparities Technical Expert Panel (HDTEP) of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) of HHS and (b) an Institute of Medicine Committee, “Improving the Organization of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to Advance the Health of Our Population.”

A native of Atlanta, Dr. Sullivan graduated magna cum laude from Morehouse College in 1954, and earned his medical degree, cum laude, from Boston University School of Medicine in 1958.  His postgraduate training included internship and residency in internal medicine at New York Hospital – Cornell Medical Center (1958-60), a clinical fellowship in pathology at Massachusetts General Hospital (1960-61), and a research fellowship in hematology at the Thorndike Memorial Laboratory of Harvard Medical School, Boston City Hospital (1961-63).  He is certified in internal medicine and hematology, holds a mastership from the American College of Physicians and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Alpha Omega Alpha academic honor societies.

Dr. Sullivan was instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School from 1963-64, and assistant professor of medicine at Seton Hall College of Medicine from 1964-66.  In 1966, he became co-director of hematology at Boston University Medical Center and, a year later, founded the Boston University Hematology Service at Boston City Hospital.  Dr. Sullivan remained at Boston University until 1975, holding positions as assistant professor of medicine, associate professor of medicine, and professor of medicine.

A member of numerous medical organizations, including the American Medical Association and the National Medical Association, Dr. Sullivan is the founding president of the Association of Minority Health Professions Schools (AMHPS).  He is a former member of the Joint Committee on Health Policy of the Association of American Universities and the National Association of Land Grant Colleges and Universities.

In 1985, Dr. Sullivan was one of the founders of Medical Education for South African Blacks (MESAB). From 1994-2007, he served as chairman of the organization, which raised scholarship funds in the United States and South Africa for more than 10,000 black health professions students, who are now physicians, nurses, dentists and other health professionals in South Africa.

Dr. and Mrs. E. Ginger Sullivan are sponsors of The Sullivan 5K Run/Walk Road Race for Health & Fitness on Martha’s Vineyard Hospital.   Firm believers in daily exercise, the Sullivan’s have walked in more than 50 countries throughout their travels.  In recent years, they have added walks in Senegal, Nigeria, Gabon, South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia, Egypt, Morocco, Hungary, and Algeria.

Dr. Sullivan is the recipient of more than 55 honorary degrees, including an honorary doctor of medicine degree from the University of Pretoria in South Africa.

Dr. Sullivan currently serves on the following corporate boards: Henry Schein, United Therapeutics, Emergent Biosolutions, and BioSante Pharmaceuticals.   He is retired from the boards of General Motors, 3M, Bristol Myers Squibb, CIGNA, Household International (now HBSC), and Equifax.