Texas Medical Center

Lunchtime Lectures Highlight History of Medicine through the Years



History buffs in the Texas Medical Center are invited to a free series of lunchtime seminars designed to reveal how medicine has evolved over the years. From Hippocrates to heart transplants, Aesculapius to anthrax, each lecture is designed to inform and entertain.

The lectures are offered by the Houston History of Medicine Society and sponsored by Baylor College of Medicine, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, and the Texas Medical Center Library. All interested individuals are welcomed to attend, including Texas Medical Center employees and students, as well as the general public.

Lectures take place the first Wednesday of each month during the academic school year. All lectures are one hour, from noon to 1 p.m., and are held in MD Anderson Cancer Center’s Mitchell Basic Sciences Research Building, located near the Bertner and Moursund intersection, next to the John P. McGovern Commons waterwall building. All lectures are in the Mitchell building’s 223-seat Onstead Auditorium. Lunch is provided to the first 50 attendees.

An annual evening banquet at La Colombe d’Or restaurant features a noted speaker who delivers the John P. McGovern lecture.

Lectures for the Spring 2014 semester are:

January 8
“Maude Abbott: Courageous Early Female Physician and Founder of the International Academy of Pathology”

L. Maximilian Buja, M.D., professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at the UT Medical School at Houston and executive director of the Texas Medical Center Library, will discuss Maude Abbott (1869-1940), one of Canada’s earliest female physicians and an expert on congenital heart disease. During her career, Abbott faced many challenges, including caring for her sister who had mental illness and facing hostility and discrimination because she was a female physician in a male-dominated field. William Osler, M.D., known as “the father of modern medicine,” encouraged Abbott’s efforts and inspired her to press on. Today she is recognized as one of Canada’s most outstanding physicians.

February 5
“A Trail of Tears: Vignettes from the History of Leprosy”
John Wolf Jr., M.D., chair of dermatology at Baylor College of Medicine, will address the origins, or “cradle” of leprosy and the nature of “Biblical leprosy.” He will also discuss Father Damian and the isolation of leprosy victims on the Kalaupapa peninsula of Molokai, leprosy in the Pacific Islands, and leprosy in armadillos, as well as Sir James Hutchinson’s theory of leprosy and fish eating and depictions of leprosy in the visual arts.

March 5
“Aztec Medicine”
Liliana Rodriguez, Dr.P.H., with the Program in Gene-Environment Interaction at UT Health Science Center at Houston, will discuss the highly evolved practice of medicine among the Aztecs, who like Hippocrates and Galen, believed that illness was the result of the loss of internal equilibrium. Their practice of medicine involved the use of medicinal plants, minerals, and animal products. In addition, Aztec physicians, who could be male or female, were skilled to perform surgical incisions and sutures, administer anesthetics, treat bone fractures and wounds, and provide elaborate dental work.

March 18
“Writing the Stories of John P. McGovern’s Life: A Biographer’s Perspective”
At this presentation which marks the annual John P. McGovern lecture and banquet at La Colombe d’Or Restaurant, Bryant Boutwell, Dr.P.H., John P. McGovern Professor of Oslerian Medicine at The University of Texas Medical School at Houston and a longtime friend and colleague of the late John P. McGovern, will discuss his new book, “Playing for All the Marbles: A Lifetime in Stories,” which chronicles McGovern’s life and achievements. The book is the product of dozens of personal interviews with McGovern’s friends and colleagues, along with a detailed review of his vast archives now located at the Texas Medical Center Library’s Historical Research Center.

April 2
“Kezia Payne DePelchin and the Memphis Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1878”
Adrian Melissinos, Ph.D., UT School of Nursing alumnus, will explore the experiences of Kezia DePelchin, a nurse who traveled to Memphis to care for yellow fever victims in the summer of 1878. Melissinos will examine DePelchin’s experiences during the epidemic and explore nursing as it transitioned from the end of the Civil War to the start of professional nursing education.

May 7
“The Business of Private Medical Practice and the New History of the American Medical Profession”
James Schafer, Jr., Ph.D., assistant professor of history at the University of Houston, will examine the social transformation of American medicine through time, including the unraveling of professional autonomy in the mid-to-late twentieth century with the rise of third parties, corporate group practices, and evidence-based medicine.

To be placed on a monthly mailing list for reminders, contact Robert Rakel, M.D. at rrakel@bcm.edu. For more information visit www.hhom.org.