Tamil Nadu's Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami and leader of the opposition party MK Stalin came together on Tuesday to congratulate and wish Indian-origin epidemiologist in the United States, Celine R Gounder, who has Tamil roots. Celine, who is an assistant professor in the New York University Grossman School of Medicine, was named a member of the COVID-19 Advisory Board of American President-elect Joe Biden. Another south Indian who made it to the task force is Vivek Murthy, the former US surgeon general. His family was originally from Karnataka. This marks his return to health policy after he was asked to resign by the Trump administration in 2017.
Congratulating both Celine and Karnataka origin Vivek Murthy, Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami wrote, "I'm extremely happy that @celinegounder & @vivek_murthy have been appointed in the National Pandemic Taskforce of US to combat #COVID19. Both of them have made India proud and I'm very glad to learn that Dr Celine Gounder has a Tamil heritage. My best wishes to both of them."
I'm extremely happy that @celinegounder & @vivek_murthy have been appointed in the National Pandemic Taskforce of US to combat #COVID19. Both of them have made India proud and I'm very glad to learn that Dr.Celine Gounder has a Tamil heritage. My best wishes to both of them. pic.twitter.com/b6EkrmOKB8— Edappadi K Palaniswami (@CMOTamilNadu) November 10, 2020
DMK's leader MK Stalin wrote: "Glad to hear about the appointment of Celine Gounder to the President-elect Joe Biden's National Pandemic Taskforce to combat Covid-19. Happy to hear about the appointment of a woman of Tamil origin to this crucial task force."
"Congratulations and Best wishes," Stalin added.
Glad to hear about the appointment of @celinegounder to the President-Elect Joe Biden’s National Pandemic Taskforce to combat COVID-19. Happy to hear about the appointment of a woman of Tamil origin to this crucial task force.— M.K.Stalin (@mkstalin) November 10, 2020
Congratulations & Best wishes. pic.twitter.com/qmMH7gjZQ9
Celine's father Raj Gounder is from Tamil Nadu. She is a practicing HIV/infectious diseases specialist and internist, epidemiologist, journalist and filmmaker, as per her Linkedin page.
She received her BA in Molecular Biology from Princeton University, her Master of Science in Epidemiology from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and her MD from the University of Washington. Celine was an intern and resident in Internal Medicine at Harvard's Massachusetts General Hospital, and a post-doctoral fellow in Infectious Diseases at Johns Hopkins University. She was elected a fellow of the Infectious Diseases Society of America in 2016.
Acknowledging and thanking the wishes that were sent to her from Tamil Nadu, Celine in a Twitter thread explained why she continues to retain her caste name as her last name. "My father changed his name to Gounder in the early 1970s before I was born. My name is my name. It's part of my history and identity, even if some of that history is painful. I didn't change my name when I got married. I'm not changing it now," she wrote.
(With inputs from IANS and PTI)