Tamil-origin woman in Biden’s COVID-19 Advisory Board

Celine Gounder’s ancestral village is in Modakurichi Taluk.

The Democrats’ victory in the U.S. election has brought another Indian-origin woman to the forefront — Celine Gounder has been appointed to President-elect Joe Biden’s COVID-19 Advisory Board. Her ancestral village is Perumapalayam in Modakurichi Taluk.

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

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 cousin, Thangavel, a retired engineer, said Mr. Natarajan studied upto Class 8 at the Government Boys’ Higher Secondary School in Modakurichi, and completed schooling in Erode and his college studies in Tiruchi. Later, he moved to the U.S., in 1966, and settled there, he added.

Dr. Gounder started the “Raj Gounder Foundation” and provided scholarships to students of the government school in Modakurichi. She has visited the village four times, including once with her husband Grant Wahl. She last visited Modakurichi in 2018.

M. Kolandaisamy, schoolmate of Mr. Natarajan and president of the school alumni association, told The Hindu that Dr. Gounder visited the school in 2018 and sponsored a smart classroom, while also providing assistance to differently-abled students to purchase necessary aids.

“It is a proud moment for us and the school,” said Mr. Kolandaisamy, on her inclusion in the team. Her father’s brother currently resides in the village.

CM greets Dr. Gounder

Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami extended his greetings to medical experts Dr. Gounder and Vivek Murthy, who have been included in the COVID-19 Advisory Board.

“I am extremely happy that @celinegounder & @vivek_murthy have been appointed to the National Pandemic Taskforce of U.S. to combat #COVID19. Both of them have made India proud, and I’m very glad to learn that Dr. Gounder has a Tamil heritage. My best wishes to both of them,” Mr. Palaniswami tweeted.

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