Mission Statement

Meharry Medical College is a global academic health sciences center advancing health equity through innovative research, transformative education, exceptional and compassionate health services and policy-influencing thought leadership. True to its legacy, Meharry empowers diverse populations to improve the well-being of humankind.

Core Values

Meharry Medical College is a community of scholars and learners committed to excellence.

These are our core values:

  • Accountability with transparency
  • Equity with inclusion
  • Respect with collegiality
  • Service with compassion
  • Integrity without exception


Vision Statement

In 2026, Meharry Medical College will:

  • Have an enrollment of more than 1,700, including 900 medical students, 500 dental students and 300 graduate students.
  • Enroll students in:
    • Medicine
    • Dentistry
    • Biomedical science
    • Public health
    • Health policy
    • Health economics
    • Medical sociology
    • Data science
    • Physician assistant studies
    • Biomedical engineering
    • Bioinformatics
  • Enroll students from across the U.S. and around the world who aspire to improve the lives of disadvantaged populations.
  • Have a residential population of at least 1,200 on the “village campus.”
  • Be the national model for the delivery of inter-professional training for aspiring students and working professionals.
  • Be a leader in data-driven, health equity-focused research in the following areas:
    • Cancer
    • Educational effectiveness and performance
    • Infectious disease
    • Mental and behavioral health/substance abuse
    • Obesity/cardiovascular disease
    • Oral health
    • Precision medicine/health
  • Be the trailblazer in defining and implementing a new model for delivering value-based, patient-centered health care:
    • In Nashville
    • In rural Tennessee and the Mississippi Delta
    • In urban communities across the U.S.
  • Be a national leader in clinical medicine in:
    • Cancer
    • Infectious disease
    • Mental and behavioral health/substance abuse
    • Obesity/cardiovascular disease
    • Oral health
  • Have a network of regional, national and international partners to expand its clinical reach and provide additional educational opportunities for students and residents.
  • Have a comprehensive multi-specialty group practice composed of technologically adept primary care and specialist physicians, dentists and oral surgeons, advance practice nurses, physician assistants, pharmacists, optometrists, nutritionists, behaviorists, and community health workers who provide value-based, patient-centered health care.
  • Collaborate in the design and implementation of focused synergistic community networks that complement MMC’s education, research and clinical missions and provide leverage for service engagement opportunities.

Our History

Meharry Medical College was founded in 1876 by Samuel Meharry and his four brothers in response to an Act of Kindness he had received on a Kentucky road one rainy night—a chance meeting now known as The Salt Wagon Story. In 1886, Dr. George Whipple Hubbard founded a department that would “provide the Colored people of the South with an opportunity for thoroughly preparing themselves for the practice of dentistry,” and Meharry’s dental program opened its doors to nine students, three of whom were physicians. The School of Graduate Studies and Research at Meharry Medical College began in 1938 as a series of short courses in the basic and clinical sciences; in 1947, a Master of Science Degree program was implemented as the first graduate degree, a Ph.D. program was established in 1972, and an M.D./Ph.D. program in 1982. The School of Applied Computational Sciences began research and academic programs in 2021.

Meharry Today

Today, Meharry receives over 5,000 applications for admission to the M.D., D.D.S., M.S.P.H., M.S.D.S., M.S.B.D.S., and Ph.D. programs, providing opportunities for people of color, individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds, and others, regardless of race or ethnicity, to receive excellent education and training in the health sciences and conduct research that fosters the elimination of health disparities.

Salt Wagon illustration

The Salt Wagon Story

In the 1820s, 16-year-old Samuel Meharry was hauling a load of salt through Kentucky when his wagon slid off the road into a muddy ditch. With rain and nightfall limiting his options, Samuel searched for help. He saw a modest cabin that was home to a black family recently freed from slavery. The family, still vulnerable to slave hunters paid to return freedmen to bondage, risked their freedom to give Meharry food and shelter for the night.


At morning’s light, they helped lift the wagon from the mud and Meharry continued his journey. The black family’s act of kindness touched young Meharry so deeply that he vowed to repay it. I have no money now, he said as he departed, but, when I am able, I shall do something for your race. Tragically, history never recorded the name of the courageous black family, and perhaps their identity even receded in the mind of Samuel Meharry as he grew prosperous in the years that followed.


Even so, 40 years later, as the Civil War ended and black citizens began their long struggle for rights guaranteed by the Constitution, Meharry seized an opportunity to redeem his vow. When leading Methodist clergymen and laymen organized the Freedmen’s Aid Society in August 1866, to elevate former slaves, intellectually and morally, Meharry acted. He and his four brothers Alexander, David, Hugh and Jesse, pledged their support to Central Tennessee College’s emerging medical education program. With $30,000 in cash and real property, the Meharry brothers repaid the black family’s Act of Kindness with one of their own. In 1876, they funded the College’s Medical Department, which evolved over time into what we now know as Meharry Medical College.


Today, the contemporary Salt Wagon image symbolizes those several acts of kindness and philanthropy and countless others performed by the College’s loyal supporters. Use the links at the left to learn more about our mission, vision, and how to be a part of it.