Indian-American doctor Celine Gounder joins Joe Biden’s COVID-19 taskforce

A clinical assistant professor of Medicine at New York University's Grossman School of Medicine, Celine Gounder dons several hats as an epidemiologist, filmmaker, and journalist.

Tamil Nadu has been on a celebratory spree as achievements of Indian-origin women hailing from the state are making headlines in the US and around the world.

After resounding support to Vice President-elect Kamal Harris, Tamil Nadu is now applauding Dr Celine Gounder, who was appointed to Joe Biden’s National Pandemic Taskforce. Celine is among the 13-member COVID-19 taskforce who will advise the President-elect.

A clinical assistant professor of Medicine at New York University's Grossman School of Medicine, the 43-year-old dons several hats as an epidemiologist, filmmaker, and a journalist.

Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu Edappadi K Palaniswami also congratulated her appointment over a tweet.

Her father Raj Natarajan Gounder moved from Perumapalayam village in Tamil Nadu to the US in the late 1960s, and a pursued doctorate in Materials Science and Engineering at the Northwestern University in Illinois, following which he started working at the Boeing Company.

Addressing her Indian name on Twitter, Celine wrote, “Americans still today have difficulty pronouncing foreign-sounding names. My father changed his name to Gounder in the early 1970s before I was born. My name is my name. It's part of my history and identity, even if some of that history is painful. I didn't change my name when I got married. I'm not changing it now.”

In 2018, she established Raj Gounder Foundation, named after her father, to promote education in her ancestral village.

Celine holds a Bachelors degree in Molecular Biology from Princeton University, a Master's degree in Epidemiology from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and earned her MD from the University of Washington.

An HIV and infectious disease specialist, she studied TB and HIV in South Africa, Lesotho, Malawi, Ethiopia and Brazil between 1998 and 2012.

At Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, she served as the Director of Delivery for the Gates Foundation-funded Consortium to Respond Effectively to the AIDS/TB Epidemic. Celine had also served as an assistant commissioner and Director of the Bureau of Tuberculosis Control at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Another leading doctor, Vivek Murthy of Karnataka origin, will also lead the democrat leader’s taskforce for COVID-19.

Edited by Suman Singh


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