Gupta said to be out of running in Surgeon General race


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, patient safety, racial
disparities in medical care, health literacy, and the ethics of medical publishing and continuing medical education.

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.

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8 replies »

  1. I want an SG who leads the national public health effort through redirection based on a wellness orientation, prevention, and personal accountability.
    I want an SG to be the national health care leader. SecDHHS is an administrator. We need leadership to ensure Administration, Industry, and Academia remain focused on a more appropriate direction … such leading consensus for a national health care vision … “striving to be the healthiest nation by 2025”.
    The SG must assume the medical officer of the nation position and ensure all federal and state programs delivery improved Access, Wellness, and Value to Americans … and measured progress toward the national vision.
    Who’s up for that job?

  2. I join the chorus of those singing praises for George Lundberg. His is a straight-shooter, an ethical role-model, has never retreated from controversial issues and has often been prescient about what ails medicine. It would certainly be nice to see the role of Surgeon General again elevated to its rightful place in the hierarchy of American medicine.

  3. Val,
    Any source for the rumor other than the WaPo piece that I linked to? And are your rumors that he’s thinking of dropping out, or that his nomination has problems?

  4. I am relieved to hear that Sanjay Gupta is no longer under consideration. He had too many ties to industry and showed too much biased reporting. Appointing Sanjay Gupta as Surgeon General would have been analogous to appointing “Judge Judy” to the Supreme Court.
    I agree Dr. George Lundberg would be good. I also recommend Marcia Angell, MD for Surgeon General. She is former editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine, now Senior Lecturer in the Department of Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School.
    Dr. Angell is highly respected and has worked hard for ethics and scientific integrity her entire career. In 1997, Time magazine named Marcia Angell one of the 25 most influential Americans.
    She wrote the book, “The Truth About the Drug Companies: How They Deceive Us and What to Do About It.” A few of her articles include:
    • Industry-sponsored clinical research: a broken system. JAMA 2008.
    • Excess in the pharmaceutical industry. CMAJ 2004
    • Editorial policies on financial disclosure.(Comment)Nat Neurosci 2003
    • America’s other drug problem: how the drug industry distorts medicine and politics. New Repub 2002
    • Medicine: the endangered patient-centered ethic. Hastings Cent Rep 1987
    Marcia Angell, MD is eminently qualified, “clean” politically, and would bring ethics and integrity to the office of Surgeon General.

  5. Val,
    I am disappointed for the reason given. I am afraid some might interprete my own comment biased….so to start I have no assosication with him. I have heard his interview once or twice with mixed feeling.
    However, we just elected a president with nil experience in administration and then here I see such a strong negative comment about Dr. Gupta and his experience.
    While the others may be good….as I do not know them. But is is hypocritical to talk about experience….and by the way, experience has less value than intellect, value and intent!
    This whole discussion and self-pride in being the one to oppose is petty.
    We need to open and select those who will do the best for the job…may be he is not…but all the arguements made here in the past have had no credible and consistency.
    I have hired and help in hiring people best for leadership roles….
    Sorry to speak so loudly about it.

  6. Dr. Lundberg would be an outstanding choice for Surgeon General. I knew him and occastionally worked with him when we were both at the AMA, and I strongly agree with Dr. Jones’ evaluation of his qualifications and character.