Our History

Medical Institute for Sexual Health (MI) was founded in Austin, Texas in 1992 by Joe S. McIlhaney, Jr., M.D., a prominent obstetrician/gynecologist and infertility specialist. In the 1980’s, Dr. McIlhaney observed that many women needed infertility and cancer treatment resulting from sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) they had acquired years earlier. While doing research for a women’s healthcare book, he had recognized the extraordinary magnitude of the STD epidemic. He founded MI in response to these observations.

What began as an education presentation at a local high school evolved into a growing nonprofit organization with national and international influence. MI has been a leading voice providing medically accurate, research-based sexual health information to diverse audiences, ranging from healthcare professionals and educators, to policy makers, parents, and youth. MI conducts outreach through conferences, trainings, brochures, videos, and books.

Dr. McIlhaney resigned as President and CEO in 2005, but continued to serve on the Board of Directors. Under the leadership of several other key Presidents, MI continued to advance a number of key initiatives:

  • “Building Family Connections”- parenting curriculum to enhance sexual health communication between parenting adults and adolescents
  • STD Wizard – web-based interface that allows people of all ages to assess their STD risk
  • Sex, Condoms and STDs: What We Now Know and Evidence that Demands Action: Comparing Risk Avoidance and Risk Reduction Strategies for HIV Prevention
  • “Guidelines for Sexual Health Education K-12”
  • Five national meetings for sexual health educators

In November 2017, while still caring for his wife with Alzheimer’s, Dr. McIlhaney convened the first gathering of a new national coalition intended to bring together many individuals and organizations with a common purpose of impacting the culture with a positive message of preserving sexual health and families. Mrs. Marion McIlhaney passed away in April 2019.

In Summer 2019, the MI Board of Directors asked Dr. McIlhaney to return fulltime as President and CEO. The office was relocated to Dallas. Marilyn Henderson, Science Education Director, remained on the staff, and in February 2020, Dr. Michael Mitakidis joined the team as Chief Scientific Officer. Lori Kuykendall was hired as Executive Director in July 2020 and was appointed as President and CEO in September.

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