US surgeon general Vivek H Murthy was on Friday dismissed by the Trump administration, and replaced by his deputy, Rear Admiral Sylvia Trent-Adams.
“Today, Murthy, the leader of the US Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, was asked to resign from his duties as Surgeon General after assisting in a smooth transition into the new Trump administration,” the US Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement.
“Murthy has been relieved of his duties as Surgeon General and will continue to serve as a member of the Commissioned Corps,” it further read.
Murthy, an Obama administration holdover, was the 19th surgeon general and the first Indian American to head the corps.
His deputy, Trent-Adams, who took over as acting surgeon general, is one of the first nurses to serve in the position.
By Friday evening, Trent-Adams had already replaced Murthy on the surgeon general’s official Twitter account and Facebook page.
It was not immediately clear why Murthy was relieved from duty.
Murthy is the second Indian-American to be removed by the Trump administration from a senior position. The first one was the US Attorney from New York Preet Bharara who was fired after he refused to resign.
He was confirmed by the Senate by 51 to 43 votes in December 2014, despite stiff resistance by the pro-gun lobby led by the National Rifle Association. The Surgeon General is appointed for a four year term. At 37, he was the youngest ever Surgeon General.
Murthy’s parents are originally from Karnataka, India. He was born in Huddersfield, England and the family relocated to Miami, Florida when he was three years old.
He received an MD from the Yale School of Medicine and an MBA in Health Care Management from the Yale School of Management.
He is currently a practicing physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, as well as the Hospitalist Attending Physician and Instructor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School.
In his Facebook Post, he said it was an honour and privilege to work as the surgeon general.
“For the grandson of a poor farmer from India to be asked by the President to look out for the health of an entire nation was a humbling and uniquely American story. I will always be grateful to our country for welcoming my immigrant family nearly 40 years ago and giving me this opportunity to serve,” he posted.
“As my colleague Rear Admiral Sylvia Trent-Adams takes over as Acting Surgeon General, know that our nation is in capable and compassionate hands... While I had hoped to do more to help our nation tackle its biggest health challenges, I will be forever grateful for the opportunity to have served,” he also wrote.