Writer, surgeon Gawande to get senior global health role at USAID, Gupta named as America’s drug czar
President Joe Biden intends to nominate two Indian American public health experts — writer, surgeon Atul Gawande and a former top health official of West Virginia state, Rahul Gupta — for key roles in his administration.
If confirmed by the Senate, Gawande will get a senior global health role at the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and Gupta will become “drug czar” — a term coined by Biden himself when he was a senator.
Gawande will be nominee for assistant administrator of USAID’s Bureau for Global Health and Gupta, son of an Indian diplomat, will be named director of National Drug Control Policy, the White House announced Tuesday.
At USAID, Gawande will focus on efforts to prevent child and maternal deaths, control the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and combat infectious diseases, such as Covid-19.
Read: Biden to pick Rahul Gupta as America’s drug czar (July 13, 2021)
As “drug czar” Gupta will be charged with framing and coordinating national policy on combating substance-use disorders, including the response to an opioid crisis.
Gawande and Gupta will join a growing number of Indian-Americans in the Biden-Harris administration that includes, surgeon general Vivek Murthy, personnel director Kiran Ahuja, chief speechwriter Vinay Reddy, associate attorney general Vanita Gupta, and senior adviser Neera Tanden.
Gawande, MD, MPH, 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, according to his official biography.
Gawande is also founder and chair of Ariadne Labs, a joint center 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 organization 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 and written four New York Times best-selling books: Complications, Better, The Checklist Manifesto, and Being Mortal.
He is the winner of two National Magazine Awards, AcademyHealth’s Impact Award for highest research impact on health care, a MacArthur Fellowship, and the Lewis Thomas Award for writing about science.
Gupta, MD, MPH, MBA, FACP, is the Chief Medical and Health Officer and Senior Vice President at March of Dimes. In his role, Gupta provides strategic oversight for March of Dimes’ domestic and global medical and public health efforts.
He currently also serves as clinical Professor in the Department of Medicine at Georgetown University School of Medicine as well as adjunct professor in the Department of Health Policy, Management and Leadership in the School of Public Health at West Virginia University and visiting faculty at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
A practicing 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 program 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.
He is married to Dr. Seema Gupta, a physician in the Veterans Administration for over a decade. They are the proud parents of identical twin sons, Arka and Drew.
Vivek Murthy back as ‘America’s Doctor’ (March 26, 2021)
Indian Americans Vinay Reddy, Gautam Raghavan, get White House posts (December 23, 2020)
Biden names Indian American Vanita Gupta as Associate Attorney General (January 7, 2021)
Indian American Neera Tanden lands a White House job (May 17, 2021)
List of Indian Americans in the Biden administration (January 2, 2021)