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Sanjay Gupta (born October 23, 1969) is an Americanmarker neurosurgeon and media personality on health-related issues based in Atlantamarker, Georgiamarker. An assistant professor of neurosurgery at Emory University School of Medicine and associate chief of the neurosurgery service at Grady Memorial Hospitalmarker in Atlanta, he is best known as CNN's chief medical correspondent, hosting the network's weekend health program House Call with Dr. Sanjay Gupta and making frequent appearances on their American Morning, Larry King Live, and Anderson Cooper 360° programs. His reports from Charity Hospital in New Orleansmarker in the wake of Hurricane Katrina helped "Charity Hospital" win a 2006 Emmy Award for "Outstanding Feature Story in a Regularly Scheduled Newscast". From 1997 to 1998, he served as one of fifteen White House Fellows, primarily as an advisor to Hillary Clinton. Additionally, Gupta publishes a column in Time Magazine and is a special correspondent for CBS News. His book Chasing Life was a New York Times and national bestseller. In January 2009, it was reported that Gupta was offered the position of Surgeon General in the Obama administration. In March 2009, Gupta withdrew his name from consideration for the post.

Life and career


Gupta grew up in , in suburban Detroitmarker. His parents, Subhash and Damyanti Gupta, moved from Indiamarker to Michigan to work as engineers for the Ford Motor Company in Dearbornmarker in the 1960s. His mother was the first female engineer to work in Ford Motor Company. Gupta received his undergraduate degree in biomedical sciences at the University of Michiganmarker in Ann Arbormarker and his M.D. from the University of Michigan Medical Center in 1993. He was part of Inteflex, a 6-year program combining pre-medical and medical school that accepted students directly from high school. He completed his residency in neurological surgery within the University of Michigan Health System in 2000.

Broadcast journalism

In 2003, Gupta traveled to Iraqmarker to cover the medical aspects of 2003 invasion of Iraq. While in Iraq, Gupta performed emergency surgery on both U.S. soldiers and Iraqi civilians. Gupta was embedded with a Navy medical unit at the time. 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.

Gupta was named one of the Sexiest Men of 2003 by People magazine.

In December 2006, CBS News president Sean McManus negotiated a deal with CNN that will have Gupta file up to 10 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.

Surgeon General candidate

On January 6, 2009, CNN announced that Gupta had been offered the position of Surgeon General by President Barack Obama.

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 Universitymarker, 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.

Personal life

Gupta is married to Rebecca Olson Gupta, a family law attorney. They married in 2004 and have three daughters.

Medical practice

Gupta is a Emory Healthcare general neurosurgeon at Grady Memorial Hospitalmarker 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. His medical license in Georgia has been renewed to October 31, 2011.


Criticism of reporting

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.

Others have criticized Gupta's promotion of Merck's cervical cancer vaccine Gardasil, without disclosing the financial arrangements between CNN and Merck.

Gary Schwitzer, professor of health journalism at the University of Minnesota School of Journalism, has regularly criticized Gupta's reporting.

Michael Moore dispute

A July 9, 2007, broadcast of CNN's The Situation Room aired a fact check segment by Gupta on Michael Moore's 2007 film Sicko in which Gupta stated that Moore had "fudged facts".

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 and Gupta of being biased in favor of the drug industry because most of the sponsors for their medical coverage, including Gupta's reports, were drug companies.

On July 10, 2007, Gupta debated Moore on Larry King Live; a few days later 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 and issued a point-by-point response to Moore's response in which CNN contended that Moore's comparison of data from different sources in different years was in effect "cherry picking" results, at the cost of statistical accuracy.

However, Michael Moore re-explains the entire issue on his website. First, Dr. Gupta's allegation, "Well, I mean, he pulls $251 from this BBC unsourced report ... Where you pulled the $251 number was a BBC report, which, by the way, stated that the per capita spending in the United States was $5,700. You chose not to use the $5,700 from one report and chose to go to a totally different report and you're sort of cherry picking data from different reports ... Well, why didn't you use the $5,700 number from the BBC report?" To which Moore responds by explaining, "Actually, the number 'Sicko' cited for per capita Cuban spending on health care - $251, a number widely cited by the BBC and other outlets - comes from the United Nations Human Development Report, helpfully linked on our website. Here it is again: That UN report does list American health care spending as only $5,700, but it's a few years old. Since then, the U.S. government has updated its projections for health care spending, to $7,498 in 2007. So we used that number. It's the most recent, and comes right from the Department of Health and Human Services. If the Cuban government gave a figure on 2007 projected health spending, we'd have used it."

And this number that Moore uses ($7,498) is very close to the actual number that is verifiable ($7,421) on the Department of Health and Human Services website under National Health Expenditure Per Capita Projection for the 2007 on Table 1 of pg. 3.

Later, the New York Times article "The Trouble with Sanjay Gupta" by Paul Krugman states that Moore's numbers were in fact correct and there was no "fudging" of data as Dr. Gupta alleged.

CNN also admitted that, in his debate with Moore, Gupta had afterwards committed a second error, mistakenly contesting Moore's observation that Gupta's one on-air expert was now associated with a Republican-linked think tank rather than a university. Gupta's exact language, according to the official CNN transcript, was "he is with a think tank and his only affiliation is with Vanderbilt University."

See also


  1. [1]
  2. Conyers’s opposition to Gupta is connected to Michael MooreBy Molly K. Hooper 01/08/09
  3. [2]
  4. [3]
  5. kjh paging_dr_gupta.php?page=all Campaign Desk, Paging Dr. Gupta, How CNN’s doc misdiagnosed McCain’s health plan Columbia Journalism Review, October 27, 2008, By Trudy Lieberman
  6. Should a TV news doctor be US surgeon general? Peter Aldhous, New Scientist blog, January 8, 2009
  7. CNN's Sanjay Gupta, Laura Bush and the Marketing of Merck's Gardasil: Doctoring the News By PAM MARTENS, Counterpunch, July 20, 2007
  8. CNN's one-sided view of mammography controversy, Schwitzer health news blog, April 08, 2007
  9. "Sanjay Gupta" at Schwitzer health news blog
  10. CNN Transcripts. THE SITUATION ROOM. CNN's Dr. Gupta looks at "Sicko" and Some Facts Are Incorrect. Aired July 9, 2007 - 1900ET

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