Many applaud Gupta's appointment

January 6, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
CNN made Dr. Sanjay Gupta a household name and now he's on the Obama Administration's radar. The neurosurgeon and television correspondent is in line to become the next Surgeon General. It's also an appointment that would also be culturally significant.

He's known to millions of television viewers as the one who can perform surgery during a disaster or explain the effects of obesity on children. Now CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta may be taking on a new role as Surgeon General of the United States.

"It's a position where the president appoints his chief physician of the country, basically to provide the country with information on major health concerns," said Dr. Marty Fenstersheib, M.D., from the Santa Clara County Public Health Office.

According to CNN, the Obama transition team approached Gupta about the job in November. The doctor is expected to make his decision in a matter of days.

Long time friend and fellow University of Michigan medical school student, Doctor Mihir Meghani, contacted Gupta on Tuesday to congratulate him on an appointment he's sure Gupta will take.

"Very down to earth, humble, approachable, he was 'one of the guys' when we were in med school, a very bright person. We knew he'd be doing something," said Mihir Meghani M.D., Gupta's friend.

If Gupta becomes the nation's next surgeon general, he would be one of the few prominent Indian-Americans to hold federal office.

"I think it's a great opportunity to have an Indian-American there, as you know, five to seven percent of physicians in the U.S. are Indian-American, so it definitely represents the face of medicine in America as well," said Anil Singhal M.D., from the El Camino Hospital Foundation.

While Gupta's possible appointment would bring pride to one community, it would also bring leadership to an office that's been vacant since 2006.

"It's an important office and we in the medical community want to see it filled and I think he could do a great job," said Fenderstersheib.

Even if Gupta accepts the position, he would still have to be confirmed by the Senate.