At age 37 years Vivek Murthy, MD has won Senate confirmation to become Surgeon General, filling an office that has been vacant since November 2013. Murthy, an educator at Brigham and Women’s Hospital as well as Harvard Medical School, is the youngest person to serve in the position.
Murthy’s ascension to Surgeon General has been politically charged. Some of his fiercest criticism has come from the National Rifle Association (NRA), which blasted Murthy’s characterization of gun violence as a “public health issue.”
As a counterpoint to the NRA’s stance Murthy stated that if confirmed he would target the nation’s obesity crises rather than guns, according to a report from National Public Radio.
Murthy, who takes over the position from Acting Surgeon General Rear Admiral Boris Lushniak, MD, holds an MBA in addition to his medical degree. He reportedly is cofounder of a nonprofit group dedicated to promoting education about HIV/AIDS, and also chairs a company that makes software for clinical trials. An article published by Medscape notes that throughout 2008 Vivek was co-chair of Doctors for Obama and Doctors for America, which supported passage of the Affordable Care Act.
Republicans have attacked the political undertones of Murthy’s career, with Sen. John Barrasso, MD, (R-WY) characterizing Murthy’s confirmation as an example of President Obama awarding an important position based only on Murthy’s support of President Obama’s political career.
President Obama offered these remarks after Murthy’s confirmation: “I applaud the Senate for confirming Vivek Murthy to be our country’s next Surgeon General. As ‘America’s Doctor,’ Vivek will hit the ground running to make sure every American has the information they need to keep themselves and their families safe. He’ll bring his lifetime of experience promoting public health to bear on priorities ranging from stopping new diseases to helping our kids grow up healthy and strong.
“Vivek will also help us build on the progress we’ve made combatting Ebola, both in our country and at its source. Combined with the crucial support for fighting Ebola included in the bill to fund our government next year, Vivek’s confirmation makes us better positioned to save lives around the world and protect the American people here at home.”