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Dr. Sanjay Gupta: The Most Famous Doctor in the World Marks 20 Years at CNN

Dr. Sanjay Gupta: The Most Famous Doctor in the World Marks 20 Years at CNN

  • The network’s Emmy-Award winning Chief Medical Correspondent completes two decades on the beat.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, America’s doctor during the most serious healthcare crisis the country has ever encountered, is the face many of us have learned to rely on for all things COVID-19. A multiple Emmy winning neurosurgeon with the unassuming designation of Chief Medical Correspondent, Gupta just celebrated a milestone – 20 years of demystifying healthcare issues for the masses. Gupta who serves as associate chief of the neurosurgery service at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, as well as the associate professor of neurosurgery at the Emory University School of Medicine, joined CNN in 2001, and has dedicated the last 20 years covering some of the most important health stories in the United States and around the world.

In fact, just weeks after Gupta started at CNN, 9/11 terror attacks ravaged this country and amidst the chaos, Dr. Gupta with his signature smile and calm demeanor, brought a semblance of normalcy to millions as he reported from New York. He followed that up with several stories he broke regarding the anthrax attacks.

The Atlanta native has a long list of credits to his name. In 2003, Gupta captured the attention of the nation when he embedded with the U.S. Navy’s “Devil Docs” medical unit, reporting from Iraq and Kuwait as the unit traveled to Baghdad. He provided live coverage of the first battlefield operation performed during the war, and performed life-saving brain surgery five times in a desert operating room.  However, he did earn some criticism over this as some reports at the time mentioned that a few journalists had criticized Gupta for inserting himself into the news by performing brain surgery on a seriously injured Iraqi child. 

In 2004, Gupta was sent to Sri Lanka to cover the tsunami that claimed more than 155,000 lives in Southeast Asia, contributing to the 2005 Alfred duPont-Columbia University Award for CNN.

In 2005, Gupta also contributed to CNN’s Peabody Award-winning coverage of Hurricane Katrina, revealing that official reports that Charity Hospital in New Orleans had been evacuated were inaccurate. His “Charity Hospital” coverage for Anderson Cooper 360° resulted in his 2006 News & Documentary Emmy for Outstanding Feature Story. That year, he also covered the Lebanon War.

In 2010, Gupta reported on the devastating earthquake in Haiti, for which he was awarded two Emmy awards. His distinctive reporting in 2010 also included live coverage on the unprecedented flooding in Pakistan. He also contributed to the network’s 2010 Peabody Award-winning coverage of the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. In 2011, Gupta reported from earthquake- and tsunami-ravaged Japan, adding clarity and context to the human impact and radiation concerns.

In 2014, he was the first western reporter who traveled to Conakry, Guinea, to investigate the deadly Ebola outbreak that would soon find its way to the United States for the first time in history. When a major earthquake hit Nepal in 2015, Gupta flew into Kathmandu to cover the aftermath. In 2016, Gupta told the exclusive story of the separation of craniopagus twins Jadon and Anias McDonald in the Emmy award-winning documentary “Separated: Saving the Twins.” 

Dr. Gupta with his family during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Gupta extensively covered the Flint, Michigan, water crisis and the shocking Pulse nightclub hate-crime shooting in Orlando. That same year, he moderated a panel with President Barack Obama on the opioid crisis. In 2017, Gupta reported from the frontlines of a breakdown in the medical infrastructure of Puerto Rico, which was devastated by Hurricane Maria. He also broke the news about Sen. John McCain’s diagnosis with brain cancer. In 2018, Gupta cohosted “Finding Hope: Battling America’s Suicide Crisis” for which he won another Emmy award.

Moving to a more narrative genre last year, Dr. Gupta began hosting “Chasing Life with Dr. Sanjay Gupta.” The CNN original series is based on Gupta’s first book “Chasing Life.” The six-episode miniseries follows his travels around the world in search of the secret to living longer, healthier and happier.  Three years ago, he launched “Fit Nation,” CNN’s multi-platform anti-obesity initiative, which, CNN says “inspires Americans to lead healthier, more active lives.”

Extensive research and interviews conducted on medical marijuana by Gupta gave birth to “Weed,” a series of five documentary films on the subject. It featured several medical marijuana patients and their journeys, as well as topics and issues around the benefits, business and legality of the emerging cannabis industry.  Apart from CNN, Dr. Gupta contributes to the CBS newsmagazine “60 Minutes.” He stars in the HBO Original Documentary “One Nation Under Stress,” which examines why life expectancy is declining in the United States. 

He holds memberships in the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, Congress of Neurological Surgeons, and the Council on Foreign Relations. He serves as a diplomat of the American Board of Neurosurgery, is a certified medical investigator, and is a board member of the Lance Armstrong LiveStrong Foundation.

According to CNN it is Dr. Gupta’s medical training and public health policy experience that distinguish his reporting on a range of medical and scientific topics, including brain injury, disaster recovery, health care reform, fitness, military medicine, HIV/AIDS, and other areas.

Gupta is also known for his work in the written word. Along with contributions to medical journals, he is the author of three best-selling books, “Chasing Life” (2007), “Cheating Death” (2009) and “Monday Mornings” (2012). His fourth book, “Keep Sharp: Building a Better Brain” is to be published later this year. He writes poetry as well. It is said that he proposed to his wife, Rebecca Olson Gupta, with one of his poems.

The 50-year-old physician has earned the confidence of millions of Americans, as he, with his signature smile, gives the lowdown on America’s health, but not just on TV.

His book “Monday Morning,” which was an instant New York Times bestseller on its release in March 2012, was adapted as a television series in 2013, with David E. Kelley and Gupta serving as executive producers. The first episode aired on Feb. 4, 2013 on TNT. However, the series was cancelled after its first season. Deadline reported then that the medical drama “opened with an underwhelming 1.34 million viewers and ended its freshman run at the same level, with the finale drawing 1.37 million.” The book follows the professional and personal lives of five doctors at the fictional Chelsea General Hospital in Portland, Oregon. The name “Monday Morning” refers to the weekly peer-reviewed conferences held on Monday mornings, at which the surgeons receive both praise for their accomplishments and lambasting for their mistakes. 

Last year, Dr. Gupta, in collaboration with TEDMED co-creator Marc Hodosh, announced a new event called “Life Itself,” which was set to launch this year, in partnership with CNN. Both Dr. Gupta and Hodosh will act as hosts of the show.

The 50-year-old physician has earned the confidence of millions of Americans, as he, with his signature smile, gives the lowdown on America’s health, but not just on TV. Social media is another way Dr. Gupta gives opinions and medical advice. Considered among one of the most prominent public health influencers, he has over 2.37 million followers on Twitter, and over 137,000 followers on Facebook.  

Early Life

Gupta grew up in Novi, Michigan, located on the outskirts of Detroit. His parents, Subhash and Damayanti Gupta moved to the U.S. from India, and worked at the Ford Motor Company. His mother, who was 5 during the 1947 Partition, lived in a refugee camp before moving to India. She was the first female engineer hired by the auto manufacturing giant in August 1967.

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In a blog on Guideposts, Dr. Gupta wrote about how his grandfather’s illness was a catalyst in him becoming a neurosurgeon. When his grandfather had a stroke and was hospitalized, Dr. Gupta recalls “sitting anxiously at his bedside,” as he watched the nurses to do their job – “checking his vitals and looking at the monitors attached to his body.” He wondered what he could do to make his grandfather feel better – “to bring back the warm, thoughtful man I knew.” 

He wrote about being fascinated by the neurosurgeons. “When they explained what they could do surgically to help, I thought, I want to be like them,” Dr. Gupta wrote in the blog. He wanted to know what they knew and have the ability to heal like they do. “Eventually my grandfather got better, and my path in life was started.” Gupta went on to receive his undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan and a Doctorate of Medicine from the University of Michigan Medical School. He is married to attorney Rebecca Olson Gupta and the couple have three daughters – Soleil Asha, Sage Ayla and Sky Anjahi. 

Gupta may well be the most well-known ethnic journalist in the world. In an interview with the Atlanta-based Khabar magazine in November 2006, Dr. Gupta spoke about his South Asian heritage. “I do think that being South Asian – and just being Indian – in any part of the world has served me well,” he said. Recalling his experiences in India and Pakistan, he told the magazine: “I think having a similar ethnic background does make people all over the world feel a little more comfortable [with you].” 

In 2014, Dr. Gupta traveled to India and Pakistan with his family to find his roots. The journey, which was later made into a small documentary for CNN, took him to Pakistan, where his mother came from, as well as a few places in India including Rohtak and Haridwar, to trace his father’s beginnings. The family managed to trace their ancestors going back 40 generations. “As much as I thought I knew the story of my family, I really only had a few headlines,” he wrote on CNN. “I didn’t know the nuances, the details, the tidbits that painted a more complete picture of who we really are,” he added. “To understand truly where you are going, it helps to understand from where you came.”

Sexiest Man Alive

In 2003, Dr. Gupta was named one of People magazine’s “Sexiest Men Alive.” He told the magazine then that he is an emotional doctor. “I’ll sit right down next to them [the patient] on the bed and talk,” he said. The magazine said Dr. Gupta is “so sexy that he makes you forget he’s

reporting on the flu, SARS or pesticide levels in farmed salmon.” He also made it to USA Today’s “pop culture icon” list. 

In 2003, Dr. Gupta also won the Humanitarian Award from the National Press Photographers Association. The following year, the Atlanta Press Club named him “Journalist of the Year.” A few years later, in 2009, he won both the first Health Communications Achievement Award from the American Medical Association’s Medical Communications Conference and the Mickey Leland Humanitarian Award from the National Association for Multi-ethnicity in Communications. In 2010, he was honored by John F. Kennedy University with its Laureate Award for leaders in health and wellness. A year later, Forbes magazine named him as one of the “Ten Most Influential Celebrities.” 

A man of many talents and interests, when he’s not on air, he is either at home with his family, or at the hospital performing surgeries, or competing in triathlons. It’s widely reported that he likes to listen to Frank Sinatra and the Gipsy Kings while in the operating room. “I’m Dr. Sanjay Gupta. And this is CNN.”

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  • I would like to know if Dr Gupta is in fact suggesting that Blue Vibe CBD does in fact cure dementia. Several well known people are saying the same thing. Is this a scam or does he really believe what the information is saying. If he is not really advocating this CBD I WISH HE WOULD SE T THE RECORD STRAIGH PUBLICALLY. IT IS NOT FAIR TO THE PUBLIC. Since so many famous people are advocating it I really have my doubts.

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