President Obama Nominates First Indian American As Surgeon General
November 15, 2013

President Obama Nominates First Indian American As Surgeon General

Lawrence LeBlond for - Your Universe Online

President Barack Obama today nominated a new Surgeon General of the United States, the second such nomination he has made in his nearly five years in office. Vivek Murthy, MD, MBA, who is a Boston-based hospitalist and instructor, would become the newest Surgeon General if a majority of the Senate grants confirmation to Obama’s nomination.

The Surgeon General of the United States is the country’s top spokesperson on matters of public health. The term of the Surgeon General is four years and is nominated or appointed by the US President.

Obama’s first appointment for Surgeon General came soon after taking office in 2009. David L. Weaver took the seat as Acting Surgeon General on October 1, 2009 due to a delay in the Senate’s confirmation of Regina Benjamin as newest Surgeon General. Weaver held the position until November 3, 2009, when Benjamin took over, who was President Obama's first actual nomination.

Upon Benjamin’s resignation on July 16, 2013, Boris D. Lushniak was made Acting Surgeon General a day later on July 17, 2013 by President Obama. Now, nearly four months later, Obama has nominated Murthy as the successor to the office, the White House announced on Thursday.

If the Senate confirms the 36-year-old choice, he will become the first Indian-American to hold the position since the office was first held by John M. Woodworth in 1871, who was appointed by then-President Ulysses S. Grant.

Murthy is the co-founder and former president of Doctors for America, an organization that was originally called Doctors for Obama, which also campaigned for Obama’s re-election. Murthy was also an early supporter and grass-roots advocate for Obama’s Affordable Care Act. He is a doctor at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and an instructor at Harvard Medical School.

Murthy’s credentials do not stop there. He has also been a leader in HIV prevention and AIDS education in both the US and India. In 1995, he helped form Visions, a non-profit AIDS and HIV educational group and has been both its president and chairman of the board.

Murthy received his medical degree from Yale and a Bachelor of Arts degree in biochemical sciences from Harvard. He also received his MBA from Yale.

In a statement following the nomination Thursday, Jay Carney, the White House Press Secretary, said Dr. Murthy “will be a powerful messenger” on health policy, as cited by the NY Times’ Steve Kenny.

Alice Chen, MD, executive director of Doctors for America, told MedPageToday’s Chris Kaiser in a statement that Murthy has been "a tireless leader in bringing together 16,000 doctors and medical students from all 50 states for the common cause of improving the health of the nation."

Murthy was appointed by President Obama to serve as member of the Surgeon General’s prevention advisory group in 2011. That position was created by the Affordable Care Act, which was passed just a year earlier in 2010.