Considering the stellar contributions of the com- munity’s physicians to health care in the United States, it was inevitable that a US President would continue to tap an Indian-American physician to the post of Surgeon General, and
that one would ultimately accept the offer.
November 14, among other nominations, President
Barack Obama nominated Dr Vivek Hallegere Murthy to
be the next US Surgeon General.
‘I am confident that these outstanding individuals will
greatly serve the American people in their new roles and I
look forward to working with them in the months and
years to come,’ President Obama said.
In early 2009, then President-elect Obama had sounded
out neurosurgeon Dr Sanjay Gupta — CNN’s chief medical
correspondent — for the post, but Gupta had declined.
George W Bush in his first term as President had also
tapped an Indian-American physician, Dr Zach Zachariah,
for the post, but the Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based cardiologist — and a leading raiser of funds for the Republican
Party — too had politely refused, not wanting to go through
the protracted and rigorous Senate confirmation process.
Dr Murthy, who looked dapper in his traditional Indian
outfit at the White House Diwali celebration November 5
presided over by First Lady Michelle Obama, apparently
has no such qualms.
Once he is confirmed by the Senate — expected to be a
formality, considering his impeccable credentials, gravitas,
and track record — Dr Murthy will create history by
becoming the first Indian-American US Surgeon General,
a position that falls under the purview of the Department
of Health and Human Services.
If confirmed, he will replaced Regina Benjamin, who was
appointed by Obama in 2009 and resigned this summer.
Since then, Rear Admiral Boris Lushwiah has been serving
as acting surgeon general.
Dr Murthy is co-founder and president of Doctors for
America, a position he has held since 2009. He is also an
attending physician and instructor in medicine at Brigham
and Women’s Hospital at Harvard Medical School in
Boston, a position he has held since 2006.
“I applaud President Obama’s choice of Vivek to be the
next Surgeon General,” Dr Amerish ‘Ami’ Bera, (Democrat,
California) the only serving Indian-American lawmaker in
Congress and the first Indian-American physician ever
elected to the US legislature, told IndiaAbroad. “As a prac-
ticing physician and instructor at Brigham and Women’s
Hospital at Harvard, a supporter of innovation and tech-
nology in medicine, and a leader in the medical communi-
ty, he is extremely well qualified to take on the role, and I
look forward to his confirmation.”
Dr Jay Bhatt, second-generation Indian-American physi-
cian and a close friend of Dr Murthy, told India Abroad,
“Vivek has been an incredible friend, mentor, and partner
in building a community of medical students and physi-
cians fighting with advocates for quality, affordable, health
care for all. I was fortunate to have been a part of the lead-
ership team that launched Doctors for America and help it
grow into a community advocating to put the care back in
Dr Bhatt is managing deputy commissioner, Chicago
Department of Public Health, is an internist/geriatrician at
the Erie Family Health Center, and also serves on the
adjunct faculty at the University of Michigan, recalled.
“Vivek inspired the community he worked with and on
behalf of to be better, to be empowered, and to change their
future,” he said. “When he spoke, people listened. Our
health-care system will require innovative leadership.
Vivek has the capacity, emotional maturity, and entrepreneurial spirit to improve care delivery for populations as
Vivek Murthy for Surgeon General
President Obama nominates Boston physician as America’s Doctor. Aziz Haniffa reports
Dr Vivek Murthy outside the Supreme Court
during the first day of legal arguments over
the Affordable Care Act, in Washington,
DC, March 26, 2012.