President Biden appoints Indian-American as CMO at Homeland Security

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Dr. Pritesh Gandhi, candidate for U.S. Congress who lost the Democratic primary runoff July 14, 2020, speaking to supporters on Facebook Zoom (Photo videograb Facebook at PriteshGandhiMD)

Dr. Pritesh Gandhi who ran for Congress from District 10 in Texas and who told News India Times he was inspired by his India visit to choose a career path, was recently appointed by President Joe Biden as Chief Medical Officer at the Department of Homeland Security.

In an interview with News India Times during his campaign, Gandhi said he was deeply influenced by the year he spent in India as a Fulbright Scholar 15 years ago, working on a literacy and education program and an urban landfill  at a non-profit.

In his new role at DHS, Gandhi serves as the principle advisor to the DHS Secretary, Assistant Secretary for the Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction (CWMD), the FEMA Administrator, and DHS senior leadership on medical and public health issues related to natural disasters, border health, pandemic response, acts of terrorism, and other man-made disasters.

Speaking to News India Times about what inspired him to be heavily involved in social service and the community health clinic, Gandhi reflected on his time in India.

“I realized that systems are designed to produce the very outcomes that many of us advocate against,” Gandhi said. “What that meant for me was that to truly make an impact on marginalized populations, we need to have them at the table when the systems are designed.”

“So for me, as a physician, seeing the day-to-day struggles of these communities (in India) had a profound impact,” determining his decision to return to the U.S. to get his public health degree and his medical degree.

Dr. Pritesh Gandhi at his medical center in Texas District 10 from where he was running for US Congress (This photo was posted by his wife Monisha Gandhi on March 24, 2020, on his Twitter account)

Dr. Gandhi is a public health trained and board-certified internal medicine specialist. He most recently served as the Associate Chief Medical Officer and Director of Adult Medicine at People’s Community Clinic.

The PCC is an Austin-based federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) which provides care to over 20,000 uninsured and medically underserved Central Texans, 70% of which live under the federal poverty line.

He co-led the COVID-19 response team and under his clinical leadership People’s Community Clinic was recognized by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services as a Gold Tier Health Center Quality Leader— ranking it among the top 10% of public health providers in the Nation. Dr. Gandhi recently served as an associate faculty at the University of Texas at Austin Dell Medical School.

Over the course of his career, Dr. Gandhi has worked with working-class and marginalized communities to address social determinants of health and poverty.

He is a Fulbright Scholar, Schweitzer Fellow, National Health Service Corps Scholar, and was named a Presidential Leadership Scholar in 2018.

Dr. Gandhi completed a dual internal medicine and pediatrics residency at Tulane University in New Orleans and holds a degree in International Relations & Economics from Tufts University where he also completed his MD and MPH.

 

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