Surgeon general nominee Vivek Murthy, who has launched an HIV/AIDS youth education program and is president of Doctors for America, would become the youngest physician to hold the position if approved by the Senate. The Boston physician, 36, would also become the nation’s first Indian-American surgeon general. Murthy was born in England and moved to Florida at age three.
Apparently impressed by the credentials, Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) extended the young doctor an invitation to his town during Tuesday’s confirmation hearing. But per Slate’s David Weigel, the warm welcome was clouded by Roberts’ desire to have Murthy mingle with other Indian doctors.
I’m going to invite you, because we have a lovely doctor from India. She’s in her mid-30s, and she’s highly respected by the community. And another doctor from India that did my carpal tunnel when I did a stupid thing. And so, I think you’d be right at home, and we would welcome you.
Despite some criticisms that his advocacy for the health reform law would make him too partisan, Murthy said in his hearing that his “role is to be a public health educator” and not a legislator or judge. Murthy explained that his primary objective as surgeon general would be preventing obesity. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over a third of American adults are obese, and medical costs for the obese are 42 percent higher than those for normal-weight people.
Murthy would replace acting surgeon general Boris D. Lushniak. Regina Benjamin left the post in July after four years of service.
Murthy’s HIV/AIDS education organization, VISIONS Worldwide, has been active in both the United States and India. He has also spearheaded a rural community health initiative in India and a clinical trial optimization platform. Doctors for America started out as Doctors for Obama when Murthy co-founded it in 2008 and has since grown into a coalition of over 16,000 physicians and medical students in all 50 states, according to the organization’s website.
Note: The organization Murthy founded, Doctors for America, is a project of the Center for American Progress. CAP’s sister organization, the Center for American Progress Action Fund, houses ThinkProgress.