Rumor has it that Sanjay Gupta
is no longer in the running for the office of Surgeon General. Many
e had voiced their concerns about his potential nomination
(including Paul Krugman, Maggie Mahar, Gary Schwitzer, Dr. David Gorski, and myself)
and it looks as if his lack of experience or training in matters of
public health, along with a history of industry ties has put the kabosh
on his nomination.
So who will be our next Surgeon General? It’s hard to say, but a petition is circulating on behalf of Dr. George Lundberg – a fine nominee for the position in my opinion. Let me explain why.
A review of Dr. Lundberg’s curriculum vitae easily
establishes his professional qualifications for the position. Not only
has he been one of the longest standing Editors-In-Chief of all the
American Medical Association journals (including JAMA), and the founder of the world’s first open-access, peer reviewed online medical journal (Medscape Journal of Medicine)
but has served in an advisory capacity to everyone from the World
Health Organization, to AHRQ, the Joint Commission, Harvard’s School of
Public Health, the Department of Health and Human Services, Food and
Drug Administration and the Surgeon General of the US Navy. He is also
a prolific and influential writer, having authored 149 peer-reviewed
articles, 204 editorials, and 39 books or book chapters. Dr. Lundberg
has a large and devoted national and international audience and is
highly esteemed by all who know him.
Dr. Lundberg has provided editorial leadership since the mid 1980s
in American healthcare reform, campaign against tobacco, prevention of
nuclear war, prevention and treatment of alcoholism and other drug dependencies, prevention of violence, changing physician behavior, , racial
disparities in medical care, health literacy, and the ethics of medical publishing and .
However, what may not be obvious from Dr. Lundberg’s list of
extraordinary accomplishments, is his extraordinary character and
wisdom. I had the privilege of working with George at the Medscape Journal of Medicine
and reported directly to him. From this vantage point I was able to to
observe his impartiality, his commitment to honesty and integrity, and
his ability to walk the line between inclusivity of opinion and
exclusivity of falsehoods. George is a defender of science, a welcomer
of ideas, and an impartial judge of content. He can capture an
audience, nurture imagination, and see through deception. George is
exactly the kind of person we need as Surgeon General – he can be
relied upon to discern truth, and maintain his faithfulness to it under
political or industry pressure.
But best of all, George understands the central role of trust in healthcare. In his recent book, Severed Trust,
George analyzes the policy decisions that have shaped our current
healthcare system, and laments their inadvertent collateral damage: the
injury to the sacred trust between physicians and patients.
If we want to come together as a nation to restore hope and trust in
America – and we want to create an equitable healthcare system that
leaves none behind, restores science to its rightful place, and heals
the wounds endured by both providers and patients, then we need a
Surgeon General like George Lundberg to help us.
I can only hope that his candidacy will be given the full consideration it deserves.