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Medical scholars co-sponsor conference in Chicago to make connections


Andrea Lynn, Humanities Editor
217-333-2177; andreal@illinois.edu

Released 4/11/2007

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — In an effort to create a “community of physician-scholars” by linking socially minded medical students and veteran physicians, University of Illinois students enrolled in a rigorous Medical Scholars Program have organized an April conference in Chicago.

Their conference on “Rethinking Health, Culture and Society: Physician-Scholars in the Social Sciences and Medical Humanities” will be held April 21 and 22 in the University of Chicago’s Biological Sciences Learning Center, 924 E. 57th St., Chicago.

The event, which is open to the public but has a registration fee, is co-organized by medical scholar students at the University of Chicago. Registration is available through the conference Web site.

According to Matthew Gambino, one of the U. of I. student organizers, the conference aims to “to foster cross-disciplinary communication and promote innovative research.”

“We think this conference highlights some of the more interesting and innovative work being done on the U. of I. campus,” he said.

The students will host three eminent dual-degree physicians as keynote speakers – an anthropologist, a historian and a sociologist. Students and researchers from around the country and three from abroad will present their work. Four established physician-scholars will lead a career panel.

Gambino said that Illinois’ Medical Scholars Program is one of the largest such programs in the country and “virtually unique in its willingness to promote dual-degree research in the humanities and social sciences.”

Illinois has 150 medical-scholars – about 30 of them in the humanities and social sciences who are pursuing doctorates in anthropology, communications research, community health, English, history, law and philosophy. Two of them, Ted Bailey and Jennifer Baldwin, will present their work at the conference.

Bailey, an M.D./J.D./Ph.D. candidate in philosophy, is focused on social justice and infectious disease, and in his presentation will argue that “our framework for thinking about human rights needs to recognize the biological vulnerabilities we all share in our encounters with the natural world,” Gambino said.

“His work draws from political philosophy and legal theory and rests on a deep knowledge of infectious disease and microbiology.”

Baldwin, an M.D./Ph.D. candidate in anthropology, examines the “models of disability and civic inclusion” that specific groups in Southeast Asia have deployed in their efforts to win social recognition. Her talk draws on fieldwork she conducted for her master’s thesis in Nepal and India.

The faculty adviser for the conference is David Meltzer, M.D. and Ph.D. at the U. of Chicago’s Center for Health and the Social Sciences.

Gambino can be contacted at mgambino@illinois.edu; his co-organizer at Illinois is Andrea Brandon, sbrandon@illinois.edu. University of Chicago organizers are Talya Salant, tsalant@uchicago.edu, and Jennifer Karlin, jkarlin@uchicago.edu.

Major sponsors of the conference are the Carle Development Foundation in Champaign, the U. of I. College of Medicine, the U. of I. Institute of Government and Public Affairs, the U. of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Medicine and the U. of Chicago’s Center for Health and the Social Sciences.