Obama wants CNN's Gupta as next U.S. surgeon general

U.S. president-elect Barack Obama has asked neurosurgeon Sanjay Gupta, CNN's chief medical correspondent, to serve as the country's surgeon general, CNN reported Tuesday.

U.S. president-elect Barack Obama has asked neurosurgeon Sanjay Gupta, CNN's chief medical correspondent, to serve as the country's surgeon general, CNN reported Tuesday.

It's unclear whether Gupta has accepted, and one Democrat suggested to the Associated Press that the decision to seek Gupta for the job isn't final.

According to CNN, Obama's team is drawn to Gupta because of his medical, political and media experience.

Gupta, a former White House fellow and a special adviser to former first lady Hillary Clinton, is the associate chief of neurosurgery at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta and serves as an assistant professor of neurosurgery at Atlanta's Emory University.

He is also an Emmy-winning journalist who has covered major stories such as the war in Iraq and the hurricane in New Orleans. He hosts House Call on CNN, contributes reports to CBS News, and writes a column for Time magazine.

Gupta, 39, has declined to comment the surgeon general offer. Obama's office is also remaining silent.

CNN pulls Gupta from political stories

CNN said it has removed Gupta from any political stories while his future role in government is determined.

"Since first learning that Dr. Gupta was under consideration for the surgeon general position, CNN has made sure that his on-air reporting has been on health and wellness matters and not on health-care policy or any matters involving the new administration," CNN said in a statement. 

The surgeon general isn't heavily involved in shaping an administration's policy, but still has a strong impact on U.S. health issues. Past surgeons general have proved instrumental in battling tobacco and AIDS.

Gupta would replace acting surgeon general Rear Admiral Steven Galson. The last permanent surgeon general was Richard Henry Carmona, whose term ended in 2006.

Surgeons general are nominated by the president and confirmed by a Senate vote.

With files from the Associated Press