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AAMC 2014: Literary Spotlight: Breaking Ground


Raised in rural Georgia during a time of severe racial persecution, Louis W. Sullivan, M.D., grew up in a political environment in which he was not expected, nor favored to succeed. Fortunately, his family and home environment nurtured him to overcome obstacles placed in his way.

Sullivan’s talk centered around his life story, most notably his progression from attending public school in the Jim Crow South to becoming a physician, founding dean of a medical school and member of a presidential cabinet. All of this is featured in a book he published in 2014, Breaking Ground: My Life in Medicine.

Dr. Sullivan graduated from Morehouse College in 1954 and was accepted at Boston University School of Medicine. After graduation in 1958, he did further medical training in New York and Massachusetts, with a special interest in hematology.

Following a distinguished career in academic medicine, including becoming the founding dean of the Medical Education Program at Morehouse College and eventually the dean and president of the School of Medicine at Morehouse College, Sullivan was tapped by President George H. W. Bush to serve as secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. In that position, aside from carrying out his duties as secretary, he helped improve the department’s gender and ethnic diversity.

Breaking Ground: My Life in Medicine is available at

By: Aaron Lovell

Aaron Lovell is a communications specialist for University of Utah Health Sciences.