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Gupta, circa 2011
October 23, 1969 |
Novi, Michigan, United States
|Alma mater||University of Michigan
|Occupation||Journalist and neurosurgeon|
|Spouse(s)||Rebecca Olson Gupta|
Sanjay Gupta (/
A media personality on health-related issues, he is best known as CNN's multiple Emmy Award-winning chief medical correspondent, hosting the network's weekend health program Sanjay Gupta, M.D., and making frequent appearances on their American Morning, Larry King Live and Anderson Cooper 360° programs. His reports from Charity Hospital, New Orleans, Louisiana, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina led to him winning a 2006 Emmy Award for Outstanding Feature Story in a Regularly Scheduled Newscast. Additionally, Gupta publishes a column in Time magazine and is a special correspondent for CBS News. His books Chasing Life and Cheating Death were New York Times and national bestsellers. His latest book, Monday Mornings, a novel, was released in March 2012 and became an instant New York Times bestseller. It was adapted as a 2013 television series with David E. Kelley and Gupta serving as executive producers.
From 1997 to 1998, he served as one of fifteen White House Fellows, primarily as an advisor to Hillary Clinton. In January 2009, it was reported that Gupta was offered the position of Surgeon General of the United States in the Obama administration, but he withdrew his name from consideration. In January 2011, he was named "one of the 10 most influential celebrities" by Forbes magazine.
In the 1960s, Gupta's parents, Subhash and Damyanti Gupta, moved from India to Novi, Michigan, to work as engineers for Ford Motor Company. Gupta and his younger brother Suneel graduated from Novi High School, and Gupta went on to receive his Bachelor of Science degree in biomedical sciences at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and his M.D. degree from the University of Michigan Medical School in 1993. He was part of Inteflex, a since discontinued accelerated medical education program that accepted medical students directly from high school.
As an undergraduate, Gupta worked as an orientation leader for the freshman orientation program, and was a member of the Men's Glee Club. He also served as president of the Indian American Students Association (IASA), which is now the second largest student organization at the university.
Gupta is an Emory Healthcare general neurosurgeon at Grady Memorial Hospital and has worked on spine, trauma and 3‑D‑image-guided operations. He has published medical journal articles on percutaneous pedicle screw placement, brain tumors, and spinal cord abnormalities. He is licensed to practice medicine in New York, Michigan, Georgia and South Carolina.
During his reporting in Haiti following the January 2010 earthquake, Gupta received a call from the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson that an earthquake victim, a 12-year-old girl, was aboard and needed a neurosurgeon. Gupta, a pediatric surgeon, Henri Ford, and two U.S. Navy doctors removed a piece of concrete from the girl's skull in an operation performed aboard the Vinson. Ford later wrote that Gupta "proved to be a competent neurosurgeon".
In 2003, Gupta traveled to Iraq to cover the medical aspects of the invasion of Iraq. While in Iraq, Gupta performed emergency surgery on both US soldiers and Iraqi civilians. Gupta was embedded with a Navy medical unit at the time, specifically a group of doctors called the "Devil Docs", who supported the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force. A Marine named Jesus Vidana suffered a severe head injury, and the Marines asked for Gupta's assistance because of his background in neurosurgery. Vidana survived and was sent back to the United States for rehabilitation.
In December 2006, CBS News president Sean McManus negotiated a deal with CNN that would have Gupta file up to ten reports a year for the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric and 60 Minutes while remaining CNN's chief medical correspondent and associate chief of neurosurgery at Grady Memorial Hospital.
On October 14, 2007, Gupta guest-hosted a health episode of CBS News Sunday Morning as its regular host Charles Osgood was on vacation. In February 2009, Gupta hosted AC360 covering the White House Health Summit. He also guest hosted Larry King Live in October 2009. In January 2010, Gupta and Cooper led CNN's coverage of the earthquake in Haiti. Gupta has regularly appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Real Time with Bill Maher and the Oprah Winfrey Show. Winfrey referred to Gupta as CNN's hero in January 2010.
In a 2013 editorial, Gupta announced that in the process of working on a documentary about marijuana he had changed his mind about the drug's risks and benefits. Gupta had previously criticized laws that allowed patient access to medical marijuana, but he reversed his stance, saying, "I am here to apologize," and, "We have been terribly and systematically misled for nearly 70 years in the United States, and I apologize for my own role in that." The third part of his 3-hour documentary, "Weed 3: The Marijuana Revolution", was released in April 2015.
Gupta will serve as a commentator on the University of Michigan TeamCast with former Wolverines kicker Jay Feely for the school's appearance in the 2018 NCAA Men's Final Four, airing on CNN sibling TNT.
Some doctors said that his communication skills and high profile would allow him to highlight medical issues and prioritize medical reform. However, others raised concerns about potential conflicts of interest with drug companies who have sponsored his broadcasts and his lack of skepticism in weighing the costs and benefits of medical treatments.
Representative John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), wrote a letter opposing Gupta's nomination. Conyers supports a single-payer health care system, the sort that Conyers' filmmaker friend Michael Moore advocated in his documentary Sicko; Gupta has criticized Moore and the film.
Others, such as liberal commentator Jane Hamsher, defended the appointment, noting that Gupta's responsibilities as a surgeon general would be not that different from those of his CNN position, and that Gupta's media presence would make him ideal for the position. From the medical community, Donna Wright, of Creative Health Care Management, a regular commentator on medicine and politics, also defended the appointment on the grounds of his media presence, combined with his medical qualifications, which she viewed as an ideal combination for the post of surgeon general. Likewise, Fred Sanfilippo, executive vice president for health affairs at Emory University, supported Gupta's nomination by issuing a press release saying: "He has the character, training, intelligence and communications skills needed to help the United States improve its health and health care delivery systems in the next Administration." The American Council on Exercise, listed by PR Newswire as "America's leading authority on fitness and one of the largest fitness certification, education and training organizations in the world", endorsed the nomination of Gupta "because of his passion for inspiring Americans to lead healthier, more active lives". The ACE sent a letter of support to senator Edward M. Kennedy. Former surgeon general Joycelyn Elders also supported Gupta's nomination, saying: "He has enough well-trained, well-qualified public health people to teach him the things he needs to do the job." In March 2009 Gupta withdrew his name from consideration for the post, citing his family and his career.
Some journalists and journalism professors specializing in health care have criticized Gupta's coverage. Trudy Lieberman, a regular Nation contributor on healthcare and director of the health and medicine reporting program at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, reviewed Gupta's "ineptitude" in reporting on the McCain health plan. Lieberman criticized Gupta for relying on insurance industry statistics, and a health expert quoted by Lieberman said that Gupta's reporting “gives a gross oversimplification".
Peter Aldhous criticized Gupta's "enthusiasm for many forms of medical screening – even when the scientific evidence indicates that it may not benefit patients". He and other medical journalists accuse him of a "pro-screening bias" in promoting widespread electrocardiogram and prostate cancer screening, even though medical authorities like the US Preventive Services Task Force recommend against it.
Writing in CounterPunch, Pam Martens criticized Gupta's promotion of Merck's cervical cancer vaccine Gardasil, including repeated assertions that it prevented cervical cancer years before clinical trials had proven that to be true, and without disclosing the financial arrangements between CNN and Merck; she also criticized his downplaying of the risks of Vioxx for cardiovascular events, for which he stated that he drew his conclusions from having "talked to the makers of Vioxx, the Merck company"; and for his involvement in AccentHealth, a health infomercial site that presents itself as patient education and is played in physician waiting rooms and does not in her view adequately disclose its promotional nature.
Immediately following the segment, Moore was interviewed live on CNN by Wolf Blitzer. Moore said that Gupta's report was inaccurate and biased, and Moore later posted a detailed response on his website. Moore accused CNN of being biased in favor of the drug industry because most of the sponsors for their medical coverage were drug companies.
On July 10, 2007, Gupta debated Moore on Larry King Live; on July 15, CNN released a statement in response to Michael Moore's rebuttal. In it, they apologized for an error in their on-air report, having stated that in the film Moore reported Cuba spends $25 per person for health care when the film actually gave that number as $251. CNN attributed this to a transcription error. CNN defended the rest of Gupta's report responding point-by-point to Moore's response, contending that comparison of data from different sources in different years was in effect cherry picking results, at the cost of statistical accuracy.
On April 28, 2012, Gupta was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree for his accomplishments in the medical field. He also gave the commencement address at the spring commencement ceremony held in the University of Michigan Stadium. On June 12, 2016, Gupta addressed the Oregon Health & Science University graduating class of 2016.
The Obama transition team approached Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN's chief medical correspondent, about becoming U.S. surgeon general, according to sources inside the transition and at CNN.
The pair raised questions about drug-company sponsorship of some programs Gupta hosted [...] and [...] urged careful examination of any potential conflicts of interest.[dead link]
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