US president-elect Joe Biden’s 13-member Covid task force team has two Indian-Americans – Vivek Murthy and Atul Gawande. Murthy is the co-chair of the unit.
Biden has named more than 20 Indian-Americans as members, including three as team leads, to his agency review teams (ARTs) that will evaluate the operations of the key federal agencies in the current administration to ensure smooth transfer of power.
More than half of the ART members are women, and around 40 per cent represent communities historically underrepresented in the federal government in the US.
Murthy, 43, served under the Barack Obama administration. He was the US surgeon general between 2014-17, and commanded the public health force that dealt with the Ebola, Zika and Flint water crisis.
Born in Huddersfield in the UK to immigrant doctors from Karnataka, the former vice-admiral in the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps studied in Harvard. In 2003, Murthy earned an MD from Yale School of Medicine and an MBA from Yale School of Management.
Gawande, 55, is a professor of surgery at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and at Harvard Medical School. He also has administrative experience, having served as a senior adviser in the health department during the Bill Clinton tenure.
A Rhodes scholar and a Harvard alumnus, Gawande was born in Brooklyn, New York, to Indian immigrants to the US.
Gawande earned a bachelor’s degree in biology and political science from Stanford University in 1987. As a Rhodes Scholar, he bagged an MA in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from Balliol College, Oxford, in 1989. He completed his general surgical residency training, again at Harvard, in 2003. He entered medical school in 1990 – leaving after two years to become Clinton’s healthcare lieutenant during the 1992 campaign.
Gawande also served for two years as the CEO of Boston-based Haven Healthcare that was formed by billionaire investor Warren Buffett, Jeff Bezos, and JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon.
Apart from Murthy and Gawande another prominent name in Biden’s team is Stanford University’s Arun Majumdar who is the team lead for the department of energy ART.
Rahul Gupta is the team lead for office of national drug control policy and Kiran Ahuja has been named team lead for office of personnel management.
The other Indian-Americans in Biden’s team are Puneet Talwar, Pav Singh, Arun Venkatraman, Pravina Raghavan, Atman Trivedi, Shital Shah, R Ramesh, Rama Zakaria, Subhasri Ramanathan, Raj De, Seema Nanda, Raj Nayak, Reena Aggarwal, Satyam Khanna, Bhavya Lal, Dilpreet Sidhu, Divya Kumaraiah, Kumar Chandran and Aneesh Chopra.