Washington: US President Joe Biden has nominated a prominent Indian-American physician and a surgeon to serve in key roles in his administration.
West Virginia’s former health commissioner Dr Rahul Gupta was nominated on Tuesday as the next director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
Atul Gawande, a surgeon and popular author, was nominated for Assistant Administrator of the Bureau for Global Health at the US Agency for International Development.
A practising primary care physician of 25 years, Gupta previously served under two Governors as the Health Commissioner of West Virginia.
As the state’s Chief Health Officer, he led the opioid crisis response efforts and launched a number of pioneering public health initiatives, including the Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome Birthscore programme to identify high-risk infants.
Gupta also led the development of the state’s Zika action plan and its preparedness efforts during the Ebola Virus Disease Outbreak.
A national and global thought leader and a driver of innovative public policies on health issues, Gupta serves as an advisor to several organizations and task forces on local, national and international public health policy.
The son of an Indian diplomat, Rahul was born in India and grew up in the suburbs of Washington, DC.
At age 21, he completed medical school at the University of Delhi. He earned a master’s degree in public health from the University of Alabama-Birmingham and a global master’s of business administration degree from the London School of Business and Finance.
Gawande, 55, has four New York Times best-selling books to his credit — Complications, Better, The Checklist Manifesto, and Being Mortal.
“I’m honoured to be nominated to lead global health development at USAID, including for COVID. With more COVID deaths worldwide in the first half of 2021 than in all of 2020, I’m grateful for the chance to help end this crisis and to re-strengthen public health systems worldwide,” Gawande said in a tweet.
Gawande is the Cyndy and John Fish Distinguished Professor of Surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Samuel O Thier Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School, and Professor of Health Policy and Management at Harvard T H Chan School of Public Health.
He is also founder and chair of Ariadne Labs, a joint centre for health systems innovation at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and of Lifebox, a nonprofit organisation making surgery safer globally.
During the coronavirus pandemic, he co-founded CIC Health, which operates COVID-19 testing and vaccination nationally, and served as a member of the Biden transition COVID-19 Advisory Board.
From 2018 to 2020, he was CEO of Haven, the Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JPMorgan Chase health care venture. He previously served as a senior advisor in the Department of Health and Human Services in the Clinton Administration.
In addition, Gawande has been a staff writer for The New Yorker magazine since 1998.
He is the winner of two National Magazine Awards, Academy Health’s Impact Award for highest research impact on health care, a MacArthur Fellowship, and the Lewis Thomas Award for writing about science.