University of Chicago physician named White House Fellow

2 of the 13 Fellows for 2010 are Pritzker alumni

June 28, 2010

Thomas Fisher Thomas Fisher, MD

Emergency medicine specialist Thomas Fisher, MD, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago and a 2001 graduate of the University's Pritzker School of Medicine, and Pat Basu, MD, an attending radiologist at Stanford University and a 2005 graduate of both Pritzker and the University's Graduate School of Business, have been selected as two of the 13 White House Fellows for 2010-11.

Selection as a White House Fellow is "highly competitive," according to the White House's press office, with more than 700 applicants for 11 to 19 annual slots. It is based on "a record of remarkable early career professional achievement, evidence of leadership potential, a proven commitment to public service, and the knowledge and skills necessary to contribute successfully at the highest levels of the Federal government."

This year's White House Fellows are "some of the best and brightest leaders in our country," said First Lady Michelle Obama. "I applaud their unyielding commitment to public service and dedication to serving their community."

The program, according to its website, "offers exceptional men and women first-hand experience working at the highest levels of federal government."

"I've known Pat Basu since medical school, we remain connected through Facebook and I met the other finalists this summer," Fisher said. "All of them have done amazing, phenomenal things. To be chosen out of that group was an honor. It's staggering, when you look at the people who have been fellows or will be there with me. I'm excited about the opportunity to learn from them."

Fellows typically spend a year -- September 1 through August 31 -- as full-time, paid assistants to senior White House staff, such as the Vice President, Cabinet Secretaries and other top-ranking government officials. Responsibilities range from chairing interagency meetings, to designing and implementing federal policies, to drafting speeches for cabinet secretaries, to representing their agencies on Capitol Hill and in international treaty negotiations.

As an ER doctor on the South Side of Chicago, Fisher is interested in the roles of race, socio-cultural structures and racial disparities in health and health care.

"Through growing up in Chicago and working with patients in the emergency room and in the community I've had a lot of ground-level exposure to their social and health concerns. This fellowship gives me the chance to work with those who wrestle with these large social issues from the 40,000-foot level. I'm interested in learning how leaders at that level sort out the tension between diverse ideas and constituents, how they balance competing missions effectively and sensitively, how they shape policy with the best interests of society in mind. I want to meet those folks, and work with them."

Fellows receive a salary and benefits from the agency for which they work. They cannot receive compensation from any other source during their year of government service.

The Fellows Program was created in 1964 by President Lyndon B. Johnson to give promising American leaders "first-hand, high-level experience with the workings of the federal government, and to increase their sense of participation in national affairs." It was designed to encourage active citizenship and service to the nation.

The Fellows also take part in an education program designed to broaden their knowledge of leadership, policy formulation, military operations, and current affairs. Fellows participate in community service projects throughout the year in the Washington, D.C., area.

The selection process is lengthy and thorough. Former fellows screen the applications to identify the most promising candidates. Approximately 100 are selected to be interviewed by regional panels of prominent local citizens. The regional panels choose approximately 30 candidates to proceed as national finalists.

During selection weekend, the President's Commission on White House Fellowships interviews finalists at a location near Washington, D.C. The Commission recommends those individuals it finds most qualified for the fellowship to the President for appointment. 

"This is one of those golden opportunities that very few people get," said Fisher. "One of my goals is to use it to start to build a skill set related to leadership, to gather new perspectives on the way our country works, and to find mentors and role models who create systems that lead to long-tern social change."

Thomas Fisher: Chicago, IL. Thomas Fisher practices emergency medicine and studies the roles of race, socio-cultural structures, stereotyping and racial disparities in health and health care. Currently he is developing a community-medical center partnership called "Community Solutions in Action" to produce research and interventions that transform emergency departments' approaches to vulnerable communities. He also partners with the New Community Program/Woodlawn in "Ask the Doctor," a monthly community discussion on health.

He helped found Project Brotherhood, a clinic that uses free haircuts to create an incentive for African-American men to visit. He has mentored Chicago Public Schools students including co-leading the University of Chicago-Kenwood Academy program for academic exploration.

His medical training included a year as chief resident and a fellowship in the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program. He is faculty affiliate of the University of Chicago's Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture. He was a 2007 Leadership Greater Chicago Fellow and a 2009 Aspen Institute Health Forum Fellow. Fisher graduated from Dartmouth College, earned an MPH from the Harvard School of Public Health and his MD from the University of Chicago's Pritzker School of Medicine.

Pat Basu

Pat Basu, Naperville, IL. Pat Basu is a radiologist at Stanford University and at the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System. At Stanford, he directs a graduate course on Health Policy, Finance and Economics, and lectures nationally and internationally on these areas. Basu was named the Consultant Physician of the Year at Stanford in 2009, where he served as chief resident in 2008. He received the AMA's National Excellence in Medicine Award for Leadership in 2007.

Basu co-founded ExtendMD, a web portal designed to enhance outpatient care. He serves as a business consultant to medical centers, Fortune 500 companies and venture capital firms. He founded STARS Luncheon, a non-profit designed to support lower socioeconomic children for future college and career success.

Basu attended the University of Illinois on a National Merit Scholarship. He served on the University Senate and graduated with honors in mechanical engineering. In 2005 he earned his MD, with honors, from the University of Chicago's Pritzker School of Medicine, and his MBA from the University's Graduate School of Business. In Chicago, he served in the highest leadership roles on the Dean's Council in medical school and as president of his business school cohort. He also led the Adolescent Substance Abuse Program. Basu served on admissions committees at the University of Chicago and Stanford University.

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