Former U.S. surgeons general have used their position to bring attention to health threats, particularly smoking and AIDS. But Dr. Vivek Murthy is expected be the nation's public health advocate, focusing instead on prevention of chronic diseases.
After waiting for more than a year due to political posturing on Capitol Hill, Congress quietly confirmed Murthy as U.S. surgeon general this past weekend, while wrangling with a $1.1 trillion spending plan to avert a federal government shutdown.
Why did it take so long? It all started with a tweet two years ago when, after the latest incident of gun violence in America, Murthy tweeted:
"I'm tired of politicians playing politics w/guns, putting lives at risk b/c they're scared of NRA. Guns are a health care issue."
That was enough to rankle the right wing of the GOP, who vowed to block Murthy's nomination. But when, of all people, GOP Sen. Ted Cruz attempted to drag out the debate over the spending plan, he swung the door open to a slew of procedural votes, including nominations that had been sitting on the shelf.
The 37-year-old Murthy graduated magna cum laude from Harvard, got his MD from Yale and practices at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. He also co-founded Doctors for America, and Vision, an HIV/AIDS nonprofit designed to educate at-risk populations.