Born to immigrant parents, Dr. Mehmet Cengiz Oz has seen an extraordinary life and career as a physician, author, and TV personality. Born on June 11th, 1960 in Cleveland, Ohio, Oz had been encouraged to join the medical field early in life by his pharmacist mother and his father, Mustafa Oz, who was the chief of thoracic surgery at the Medical Center of Delaware for a few years. Oz spent summers in Turkey as a child, and in order to maintain his dual citizenship, he served with the Turkish army for two years.
He received his early education at the Tower Hill School, a college preparatory school located in Wilmington, Delaware. Studying biology at Harvard University, Oz received his undergraduate degree in 1982. Oz was an athlete during his time at Harvard, playing on their football team, and winning an intramural championship in water polo. He received both his MD and his MBA in 1986 at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania respectively. During this time, he served not only as the student body president and class president, but he also received Captain’s Athletic Award for leadership.
Dr. Oz’s medical career began at the Presbyterian Hospital in New York City where he completed his residency. At the time, the Presbyterian Hospital in New York City was affiliated with Columbia University. He earned the Blakemore research award during his residency. In 1995, he established the Cardiac Complementary Care Center with his colleague, Jerry Whitworth. This program offered alternative medicine approaches to people suffering from heart disease.
Dr. Oz successfully completed a heart transplant in 1996 on Frank Torre, who was the brother of then New York Yankees manager Joe Torre. Oz received a large amount of attention from this success and seemed to enjoy the publicity. In 2000, Oz rechristened the Cardiac Complementary Care Center as the Cardiovascular Institute and Integrative Medicine Program, serving as director.
The following year, in 2001, Oz began teaching as a professor at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and continued to do so until early in 2022. Through innovation, he has worked to develop tools used during heart surgery. One such device is called the MitraClip, and it is used to treat those who for some reason or other are ineligible for open-heart surgery. Another such device is the left ventricular assist device, which helps with cardiac circulation. By 2015, Oz was the holder of several patents related to heart surgery.
For five seasons of The Oprah Winfrey Show, Dr. Oz made appearances as a health expert, where he talked about different conditions such as Type 2 diabetes and obesity. This eventually led to Dr. Oz hosting his own show, and the first episode of The Dr. Oz Show premiered on September 14th, 2009. Here, he discussed a number of conditions and concerns and how to manage them, such as insomnia, stress, chronic pain, and anti-aging. Through these episodes, he discussed different homeopathic remedies and medicines for a wide range of conditions.
Dr. Oz has been married to his wife Lisa since 1985, and they have four children. Together they have founded HealthCorps, which is a non-profit organization that focuses on providing America’s youth with knowledge about health and wellness, including fitness, nutrition, and CPR training.
Raised in a religiously diverse home, Oz practices Sufism, which is a sect of Islam that identifies with spirituality and mysticism. He also practices transcendental meditation. Oz’s father was a strict Muslim, while his mother was less secular and ascribed to Kemalism.
He was diagnosed with a precancerous polyp on his colon during a colonoscopy on an episode of his show in August of 2010. He attributes this to likely saving his life. He has co-written thirteen books and has received several awards including eight Daytime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Talk Show Informative, and Outstanding Talk Show Host, and on February 11th, 2022, he received a Hollywood Walk of Fame star.
He has appeared as a guest on several television programs including 60 Minutes, Larry King Live, The View, The Colbert Report, Wheel of Fortune, Match Game, and Dr. Phil. On November 21st, 2022, Oz declared his candidacy for the United States Senate Republican seat in Pennsylvania. Due to FCC regulations regarding the equal-time rule, a number of TV stations removed his show from the air. On June 3rd, 2022, he officially became the Republican candidate for the open United States Senate seat. If he is elected in November of 2022, he will be the first Muslim to serve as a member of the United States Senate. At this time, he is self-described as a moderate Republican and cites such inspirations as Former President Teddy Roosevelt and Arnold Schwarzenegger. In 2021, when he announced his candidacy, he self-identified as a conservative Republican. Dr. Mehmet Oz is now a professor emeritus, and no longer sees patients.
Photo Credit: “WPBF 25’s Health & Wellness Festival Featuring Dr. Oz” by The Gardens Mall is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.