Alice Chen is a medical professional and wife of Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, who was nominated for the role by President Joe Biden. Murthy was sworn in on March 25, 2021, with his family by his side, as he noted on social media.
This is Murthy’s second time in the job. He served as Surgeon General from 2014 to 2017 during the Obama administration.
Murthy and Chen have been married since 2015. They have two children together.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Alice Chen Is an Internal Medicine Physician & Is Currently Licensed to Practice in Washington, D.C.
Chen holds a Doctor of Medicine title and practices internal medicine, as noted on her American Medical Women’s Association profile. She has been licensed in Washington, D.C. since November 2015, according to the D.C. Board of Medicine website. Her license will need to be renewed after December 31, 2022.
Chen previously worked as a physician and surgeon in California. Her license expired in August 2016, according to the Medical Board of California. She did not renew it when the family relocated to the east coast. The profile includes that she is proficient in Mandarin and certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine.
At the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, Chen and her husband wrote what she described as a “love letter to our brothers and sisters in medicine” on Medium. Chen shared the link on Facebook and asked her followers to “read and share with a health care professional in your life.”
Chen and Murthy praised medical care professionals who were “displaying breathtaking bravery in the face of Covid-19” caring for “anxious outpatients who still very much need you and want to know if they will be okay.” They also expressed their gratitude and solidarity with other health care workers:
You have shown our nation and our world what it means to care for and sacrifice for others, to truly serve. You remind us that in moments of crisis, we have a choice. We can retreat to our corners and fend for ourselves. Or, with hands outstretched and hearts wide open, we can reach out and lift each other up.
We cannot think of a time when we were more humbled and proud to be associated with our profession. For generations, society has looked to its medical professionals, not only for healing, but also for moral leadership. You are providing both to a world that is afraid and hurting.
2. Chen Served as the Executive Director of Doctors for America
Chen was a founding member of an organization called Doctors for America. According to its website, the group’s mission was to “mobilize doctors and medical students to be leaders in putting patients over politics on the pressing issues of the day to improve the health of our patients, communities, and nation.”
According to her profile on the American Medical Women’s Association website, Chen served on Doctors for America’s board and as its vice president after it launched in 2009. Chen became the Executive Director in 2011. She held the position until May 2017, according to her LinkedIn account.
While serving as the group’s executive director, Chen was actively involved in efforts to preserve the Affordable Care Act. She advocated against the American Health Care Act in early 2017. The bill, which passed in the then-GOP-controlled House but was rejected by the Senate, would have reconstructed the ACA and repealed parts of it. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated as many as 24 million people could have lost health insurance under the ACHA, as the Washington Post reported.
3. Chen Taught at UCLA Health for About a Decade
I joined @EmTSuss to talk healthcare on #YourPrimaryPlaylist. We dove into the last decade of health policy, why the number of uninsured Americans has risen under the Trump admin, and where the Democratic candidates stand on this issue. Listen here: https://t.co/iwhsAfTXlO pic.twitter.com/uDMWCOboNr
— Alice Chen MD (@atychen) August 6, 2019
In addition to treating patients, Chen has spent a significant portion of her career teaching the next generation of physicians. According to her LinkedIn account, Chen started teaching at UCLA Health in September 2008 as a clinical instructor.
Chen was promoted to Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine in 2010. In July 2015, her title changed to Adjunct Clinical Assistant Professor.
Chen was still teaching at UCLA Health as of October 2018. She and Murthy participated in a lecture series at the UCLA Department of Medicine that month. Chen was described on the list of speakers as an assistant clinical professor at the university.
It’s unclear when Chen stopped teaching at UCLA. Her name does not come up in a search on the faculty website.
4. Chen Has Degrees From Yale & Cornell
Chen grew up in the San Francisco area, according to her American Medical Women’s Association profile. According to her LinkedIn profile, she earned a bachelor’s degree in cellular, molecular and developmental biology at Yale University.
Chen went on to the Weill Cornell Medical College of Cornell University for medical school. After graduating in 2005, she returned to the west coast for her residency program, according to her Doximity profile. Chen completed her residency in internal medicine at the UCLA Medical Center.
According to Doximity, Chen had hospital privileges at the UCLA Medical Center’s Los Angeles and Santa Monica campuses.
5. Murthy & Chen Tied the Knot in 2015 With a Multicultural Celebration
— Sachin H. Jain, MD, MBA (@sacjai) August 23, 2015
Chen and Murthy may have crossed paths at Yale University. She was an undergraduate student while he was working toward his medical degree.
Chen and Murthy got married in August 2015, Boston Magazine reported. They celebrated with a ceremony that honored their respective family backgrounds.
— Dr. Vivek Murthy, 21st U.S. Surgeon General (@Surgeon_General) August 20, 2015
Pictures shared on social media show Murthy and Chen in three separate outfits. One outfit honored her Chinese heritage and a second showcased Murthy’s Indian ancestry. Chen had a white dress for the third look while Murthy donned his military uniform.
According to Murthy’s website, he and Chen are raising two children in Washington, D.C.