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Not changing my name, says US Covid board member Celine Gounder

Chennai, Nov 11 (IANS) US born Celine R. Gounder, who has been named a member of the Covid-19 Advisory Board of US President-elect Joe Biden, has said that there is no need for her to change her 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,” Gounder said in a tweet.

Her father Raj Gounder is from Tamil Nadu.

“Many ask why I use the caste name Gounder as my last name. My father immigrated to the US in the 1960s. Americans had a hard time saying Natarajan. Gounder was easier for them to pronounce,” she said.

Tamil Nadu came to know about her Tamil connection only by her caste name – Gounder.

There are some comments on her Twitter account requesting her to remove the caste name from her name.

Gounder has visited her ancesterol village in Perumapalayam and also set up a foundation in her father’s name.

As per reports, Gounder had sponsored smart classrooms in the Modakurichi Boys Higher Secondary School and also provides scholarshops to Class X and XII toppers to pursue higher education.

Gounder is a practicing HIV/infectious diseases specialist and internist, epidemiologist, journalist and filmmaker, as per her Linkedin page.

She did BSc in molecular biology from the Princeton University, MSc in epidemiology from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and her MD from the University of Washington.

Gounder 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.

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