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|Born|| November 5, 1965 |
Brooklyn, New York, USA
|Born|| November 5, 1965 |
Brooklyn, New York, USA
Atul Gawande MD, MPH, is an American surgeon, author, and public health researcher. He is a general and endocrine surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, professor in both the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Harvard School of Public Health and the Department of Surgery at Harvard Medical School. In his work in public health, he is Executive Director of Ariadne Labs, a joint center for health systems innovation and also chairman of Lifebox, a nonprofit reducing deaths in surgery globally.
Gawande was born in Brooklyn, New York, to Indian Maharashtrian immigrants to the United States, both doctors. The family soon moved to Athens, Ohio, where he and his sister grew up. He obtained an undergraduate degree from Stanford University in 1987. He was a Rhodes scholar at Balliol College, Oxford studying Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) in 1989. Gawande graduated from Harvard Medical School in 1995. He also has a Master of Public Health degree from the Harvard School of Public Health, earned in 1999.
As a student, Gawande was a volunteer for Gary Hart's campaign. As a Rhodes Scholar, he spent one year at the University of Oxford. After graduation, he joined Al Gore's 1988 presidential campaign. He worked as a health-care researcher for Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN), who was author of a "managed competition" health care proposal for the Conservative Democratic Forum. After two years he left medical school to become Bill Clinton's health care lieutenant during the 1992 campaign and became a senior adviser in the Department of Health and Human Services after Clinton's inauguration. He directed one of the three committees of the Clinton Health Care Task Force, supervising 75 people and defined the benefits packages for Americans and subsidies and requirements for employers. He returned to medical school in 1993 and earned a medical degree in 1994.
Soon after he began his residency, his friend Jacob Weisberg, editor of Slate, asked him to contribute to the online magazine. His pieces on the life of a surgical resident caught the eye of The New Yorker which published several pieces by him before making him a staff writer in 1998.
A June 2009 New Yorker essay by Gawande compared the health care of two towns in Texas to show why health care was more expensive in one town compared to the other. Using the town of McAllen, Texas, as an example, it argued that a revenue-maximizing businessman-like culture (which can provide substantial amounts of unnecessary care) was an important factor in driving up costs, unlike a culture of low-cost high-quality care as provided by the Mayo Clinic and other efficient health systems.
Ezra Klein of The Washington Post called it "the best article you'll see this year on American health care—why it's so expensive, why it's so poor, [and] what can be done." The article was cited by Pres. Barack Obama during Obama's attempt to get health care reform legislation passed by the United States Congress. The article "made waves" and according to Senator Ron Wyden, the article "affected [Obama's] thinking dramatically", and was shown to a group of senators by Obama, who said, "This is what we’ve got to fix." After reading the New Yorker article, Warren Buffett's long-time business partner Charlie Munger mailed a check to Gawande in the amount of $20,000 as a thank you to Dr. Gawande for providing something so socially useful. Gawande donated the $20,000 to the Brigham and Women's Hospital Center for Surgery and Public Health.
In addition to his popular writing, Gawande has published studies on topics including military surgery techniques and error in medicine, included in the New England Journal of Medicine. He is also the director of the World Health Organization's Global Patient Safety Challenge. His essays have appeared in The Best American Essays 2003, The Best American Science Writing 2002, and The Best American Science Writing 2009.
His second book, Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance, was released in April 2007. It discusses three virtues that Gawande considers to be most important for success in medicine: diligence, doing right, and ingenuity. Gawande offers examples in the book of people who have embodied these virtues. The book strives to present multiple sides of contentious medical issues, such as malpractice law in the US, physicians' role in capital punishment, and treatment variation between hospitals.
Gawande released his third book, The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right, in 2009. It discusses the importance of organization and pre-planning (such as thorough checklists) in both medicine and the larger world. The Checklist Manifesto reached the New York Times Hardcover nonfiction bestseller list in 2010.
Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End was released in October 2014.
In 2006, Gawande was named a MacArthur Fellow for his work investigating and articulating modern surgical practices and medical ethics. In 2007, he became director of the World Health Organization's effort to reduce surgical deaths, and in 2009 he was elected a Hastings Center Fellow.
In 2004, he was named one of the 20 Most Influential South Asians by Newsweek. In the 2010 Time 100, he was included (fifth place) in Thinkers Category. Also in 2010, he was named by Foreign Policy magazine to its list of top global thinkers.