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Indian American Dr. Devika Bhushan Appointed California’s Acting Surgeon General

Indian American Dr. Devika Bhushan Appointed California’s Acting Surgeon General

  • The 35-year-old served for three years as the state’s chief health officer and is the daughter of Indian bureaucrat and economist Indu Bhushan.

Dr. Devika Bhushan, the inaugural chief health officer of California, will now serve as the state’s acting surgeon general. The Indian American pediatrician’s appointment comes after the resignation of the state’s surgeon general, Dr. Nadine Burke Harris.

The role of California Surgeon General was created in 2019 by Gov. Gavin Newsom “with the understanding that some of the most pernicious, but least addressed health challenges are the upstream factors that eventually become chronic and acute conditions that are far more difficult and expensive to treat,” according to the surgeon general’s office. The position’s responsibilities include advising the governor, serving as a leading spokesperson on matters of public health, and driving solutions to our most pressing public health challenges.

“I’m honored & humbled to be taking the baton as Acting CA Surgeon General from @DrBurkeHarris, a true visionary who’s galvanized a global movement for #ACEs & #ToxicStress, and my mentor & friend,” Bhushan tweeted on Feb. 2. 

Bhushan is an equity-focused pediatrician and public health practitioner, with expertise in adversity and resilience, toxic stress, trauma-informed systems, mental health, gender equity, and structural and social determinants of health. As the chief health officer, she co-constructed its strategic vision and priorities and led its research and clinical implementation portfolios. She helped launch the ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) Aware Initiative, described as “the first-in-the-nation clinical effort focused on assessing for and treating risk of toxic stress associated with ACEs to truly transform health.”

The India-born Bhushan is the daughter of bureaucrat and economist Indu Bhushan, the first CEO of Ayushman Bharat, an Indian government agency providing national healthcare coverage to the low-income population of the country.

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The young doctor was also editor-in-chief and lead author of the first California Surgeon General’s report, in addition to other key publications and advisories. She earned a BA with research Honors in Neuroscience and Behavior from Columbia University, and an MD at Harvard Medical School, Cum Laude. She completed a general pediatrics residency at the Johns Hopkins Hospital Bloomberg Children’s Center. 

Additionally, she has served on Stanford’s faculty as a clinical instructor in the General Pediatrics division, where she taught pediatrics residents and medical students at a federally qualified health center. In addition to research expertise in adversity and resilience, mental and behavioral health, and gender equity. 

In her spare time, she enjoys writing, travel, photography, and making pottery. She lives in San Francisco with her long-time partner and their son, her LinkedIn profile says. 

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