ATLANTA – The Morehouse School of Medicine is creating what is being called the first endowed chair on sexuality and religion at a U.S. medical school.
The Atlanta medical school on Thursday announced it raised $2 million for the endowed chair, and it will begin a one-year national search to hire someone to fill it.
The chairperson will develop ways to train physicians and theologians on a wide range of sexual health issues that include contraception, rape prevention, unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
The chair will report to Dr. David Satcher, a former U.S. Surgeon General who issued a controversial report on sexual health in 2001. Satcher is now a Morehouse administrator.
A spokeswoman for the Association of American Medical Colleges said she was not aware of a similar endowed chair anywhere else.
Satcher and others at Morehouse previously coordinated national panel discussions on sexual health that involved organizations ranging from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
The medical school, founded in 1975, has an enrollment of about 300. It is separate from Morehouse College, a historically black university located across the street.
The medical school previously created an endowed chair for mental health issues, which was co-funded by entertainer Bill Cosby and child psychiatrist Dr. Alvin Poussaint. Satcher occupies that position.
The new chair is named for two Florida-based benefactors — the Rev. Marta Weeks, an ordained Episcopal priest, and the Rev. David Richards, a retired Episcopal bishop.
The chair will teach at Morehouse but will also be expected to work with other medical schools and religious academic institutions to help shape curricula elsewhere.
"We really have done something here that's never been done before," said Christian Thrasher, director of the medical school's Center of Excellence for Sexual Health.