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Doctor with Ancestral Roots in Tamil Nadu Appointed to President-elect Biden’s COVID-19 Task Force

Doctor with Ancestral Roots in Tamil Nadu Appointed to President-elect Biden’s COVID-19 Task Force

Staff Writer

Indian American Dr. Celine Gounder, an  infectious disease physician, has been appointed to President-elect Joe Biden’s COVID-19 Advisory Board. She becomes the third Indian American on the task force.

Born to Indian father and French mother in 1977, Dr. Gounder is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine and Infectious Diseases at New York University’s Grossman School of Medicine. She was named to the 13-member health expert board to advise the President on combating COVID-19.

Celine’s father Raj Natarajan Gounder was a native of the village near Perumapalayam near Modakurichi in Tamil Nadu and had migrated to the U.S. in the 1960s. Celine is the eldest of his three daughters. 

She was educated at Princeton University, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and University of Washington School of Medicine. In 2017, Gounder was named one of People Magazine’s 25 Women Changing the World.

Gounder, now 43-years-old, has always maintained links with her father’s native village and supported the state-run Modakurichi Boys Higher Secondary School students where her father studied and founded the Raj Gounder Foundation to help people. She has visited the village four times, including once with her husband Grant Wahl. She last visited Modakurichi in 2018.

According to The Hindu, as the news broke, her family’s close associates and relatives were elated. Sweets were distributed among family members and relatives who visited the house on Tuesday. 

Her relatives and people of Perumapalayam are ecstatic that a ‘daughter of the son of soil’ has made them proud by her sheer hard work. The announcement of Gounder being picked to the advisory board came days after Thulasendrapuram in Tiruvarur district celebrated the victory of Indian-Jamaican Vice-President Elect Kamala Harris. 

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“We are eagerly awaiting her visit,” the local people told The Hindu and conveyed their warm wishes to her on her appointment.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K. Palaniswami and DMK President M.K. Stalin lauded Gounder for being named to the COVID-19 Advisory Board, recalling her Tamil ancestry. Palaniswami tweeted, “I’m extremely happy that @celinegounder & @vivek_murthy have been appointed in the National Pandemic Taskforce of US to combat #COVID19.”

It was announced Monday that Indian-American physician Dr. Vivek Murthy will be co-chairing the coronavirus task force along with former FDA Commissioner Dr. David Kessler and Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, a Yale University professor.

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