Known as the nation’s doctor, the U.S. surgeon general provides scientific information and oversees the U.S. Public Health Service’s Commissioned Corps: more than 6,000 professionals who promote health across the United States. Vivek Murthy, MD, MBA, who served as surgeon general under President Barack Obama, once again assumed his post as the nation’s doctor in March 2021 and said he will prioritize addressing the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic and opioid epidemic during his second tenure. Murthy was appointed during his transition as the chair of the COVID-19 advisory board.
“I’m grateful to be confirmed by the Senate to serve once again as your surgeon general,” Murthy tweeted shortly after the announcement. “We’ve endured great hardship as a nation over the past year, and I look forward to working with you to help our nation heal and create a better future for our children.”
Murthy has more than 20 years of experience as a physician, research scientist, and former vice admiral in the Commissioned Corps. He formerly served as surgeon general from 2014–2017 and worked closely with former Vice President Joe Biden to develop a pro-public health agenda, including gun control, smoking cessation, and redefining addiction as a chronic disease, not a personal failing. He has also worked on Zika and Ebola prevention efforts, giving him experience in viral pandemics.
In 2011, Murthy was appointed to serve as a member of the Advisory Group on Prevention, Health Promotion, and Integrative and Public Health, which focused on lifestyle-based chronic disease prevention and management, integrative healthcare practices, and health promotion.
Prior to his first tenure as surgeon general, Murthy cofounded Doctors for America, a national organization of physicians and medical students whose mission is to increase access to affordable health care.
He and his sister Rashmi cofounded VISIONS, an HIV/AIDS patient education program in India and the United States, while Murthy was an undergraduate student at Harvard University. Two years later Murthy cofounded the Swasthya Project, a community training program to empower and educate women from patriarchal Indian villages to become health providers and educators.
“I never dreamed I’d have the honor to once again serve as surgeon general,” Murthy said. “In this moment of crisis, I’m grateful for the opportunity to help end this pandemic, be a voice for science, and support our nation on its path to rebuilding and healing.”
Murthy has been a committed patient advocate throughout his career. Clinicians like him are using their voice to improve health policy and promote reform. Join the Center for Advocacy and Health Policy to learn about ONS’s legislative priorities and how you can be an advocate for your patients and profession.