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Flexner Deans’ Lecture Series

2018 – 2019 Flexner Deans’ Lecture Series

All lectures will be held in 208 Light Hall at noon unless otherwise noted.
Lunch is provided with advance RSVP.
If you have any questions about the Series, please email


Monday, January 14th, 2019

Drew Gaffney, M.D.

Professor of Medicine, Emeritus


Title:  “A Medical Journal through Space and Time”

Dr. Gaffney was born and raised in SE New Mexico. He received his BA from UC Berkeley, M- UNM School of Medicine;  Internal Medicine Residency-Case Western-Metropolitan General Hospital, Cleveland, OH. He completed a Fellowship in Cardiology UT Southwestern in Dallas.  He remained on Faculty (Professor of Medicine (CV Disease) until he moved to Vanderbilt in 1992 as Chief, Clinical Cardiology.  After 2 years as acting director, he became Senior Vice-Chair, Medicine, Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs/Quality and Patient Safety, and after a decade as a Cardiologist at VUMC, became Emeritus Professor in 2017.  While at UT Southwestern, also served as NASA Payload Specialist/Astronaut from 1984-1991; flew aboard the space shuttle Columbia in 1991, performing multiple experiments examining physiological responses to micogravity.  He retired from USAF as Senior Flight Surgeon-Astronaut in 2006.  Continues to do research in patient safety as guest professor at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm.  In 2007, he began 145th “orbit”, aboard a sailboat-has traveled over 30,000 miles.




Monday, December 10, 2018

Rana Awdish, M.D., FCCP, FACP
Director, Pulmonary Hypertension Program, Henry Ford Hospital
Medical Director, Care Experience, Henry Ford Health System
Assistant Professor, Wayne State University School of Medicine

In Shock

Rana Awdish, MD, is the author of In Shock, a critically-acclaimed, best-selling memoir based on her own critical illness. A critical care physician and faculty member of Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit, Michigan, she completed her medical degree at Wayne State in 2002 where she was inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha national medical honor society, her residency at Mount Sinai Beth Israel in New York, and her fellowship training at Henry Ford Hospital where she serves as the current Director of the Pulmonary Hypertension Program. She was also recently named Medical Director of Care Experience for the entire Health System. Dr. Awdish’s mandate is to improve the patient experience across the system and speak on patient advocacy at health care venues nationally.

After suffering a sudden critical illness herself, she has special interest in improving empathy through connection and communication. She lectures to physicians, health care leaders and medical schools across the country. She was awarded the Speak-Up Hero award in 2014 for her work establishing a workshop based program called CLEAR (Connect, Listen, Emphasize, Align, Respect), which trains faculty and trainees in relationship-based communication skills utilizing improvisational actors. She was named Henry Ford Hospital’s Critical Care Teacher of the Year in 2016. She was recently named the National Compassionate Caregiver of the Year by The Schwartz Center on November 16, 2017, and the Physician of the Year by Press Ganey on November 1, 2017. She has been interviewed by The Times, The Telegraph, The BBC, NPR, the Today Show online, MedPage, Health Leaders Media, and Beckers Hospital Review. Her New England Journal of Medicine Perspectives article, A View from the Edge, went viral garnering over 100,000 views and is ranked in the 99th percentile for reach.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Laura Rothstein

Emerging Issues for Health Care Professional Programs for Individuals with Disabilities: Southeastern Community College Revisited

Laura Rothstein joined the Louis D. Brandeis School of Law at the University of Louisville as Professor of Law and Dean in 2000 (serving as dean until 2005). During her four decades in legal education, she has written fifteen books and dozens of book chapters, articles, and other works on disability discrimination, covering a broad range of issues, with an emphasis on disability discrimination in higher education and special education. Many of her writings and lectures have addressed issues involving the health care profession and disability discrimination law.

Professor Rothstein’s work to promote diversity and raise awareness on issues of disability, gender, and race have been recognized through awards like the 2015 Brandeis School of Law Award for Teacher of the Year, 2012 University of Louisville Award for Outstanding Scholarship, Research, & Creative Activity; Excellence in Achievement Award; and the February 2011 William A. Kaplin Award for Excellence in Higher Education Law and Policy Scholarship, from the Center for Excellence in Higher Education Law and Policy, Stetson Law School. She uses her scholarship as an “advocate through education” and hopes to influence policy and practice by increasing awareness and understanding of disability rights issues.

She received her B.A. in Political Science from the University of Kansas and her J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center.


Monday, October 8, 2018

David Barton Smith, Ph.D.

Power to Heal

David Barton Smith is an Emeritus Professor at Temple and Research Professor at Drexel’s Health Management and Policy Department. He was the recipient of a 1995 RWJ Health Policy Research Investigator Award to study the racial desegregation of America’s hospitals. His most recent book, The Power to Heal: Civil Rights, Medicare, and the Struggle to Transform America’s Health System, Vanderbilt University Press, received the Goldberg price for the year’s best book in the area of medicine. He assisted in the development of a related documentary, released for airings on local PBS stations and broader public use in May 2018.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Consuelo H. Wilkins, MD, MSCIConsuelo H. Wilkins, MD, MSCI

Health Inequities in Our Backyard and Strategies to Address Them

Consuelo H. Wilkins, MD, MSCI, is the Executive Director of the Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance and Associate Professor of Medicine at both Vanderbilt University Medical Center and Meharry Medical College.

Dr. Wilkins is a clinical investigator and engagement researcher who is an Associate Director of the Vanderbilt Institute for Clinical and Translational Science, where she oversees programs in community engagement and team science. Dr. Wilkins is currently a Principal Investigator of the Vanderbilt-Miami-Meharry Center of Excellence in Precision Medicine and Population Health, which focuses on decreasing disparities among African Americans and Latinos using precision medicine; and the Vanderbilt Recruitment Innovation Center, a national center dedicated to enhancing recruitment and retention in clinical trials. She is widely recognized for her innovative work developing and testing methods and tools to engage patients and communities in research and was recently named director of the Engagement Core of the All of Us Research Program, a national precision medicine project which will enroll a million or more participants. Prior to her current role, Dr. Wilkins was an Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine, Division of Geriatrics, with secondary appointments in Psychiatry and Surgery (Public Health Sciences) at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. She served as Founding Director of the Center for Community Health and Partnerships in the Institute for Public Health, co-director of the Center for Community Engaged Research in the CTSA, and co-founder of “Our Community, Our Health”- a collaborative program with Saint Louis University to disseminate culturally relevant health information and facilitate community-academic partnerships to address health disparities.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Dr. Selwyn O. Rogers, Jr., M.D., M.P.H.Dr. Selwyn O. Rogers, Jr., M.D., M.P.H.

Violence Seen Through a Public Health Lens

As a trauma surgeon and health services researcher, Dr. Rogers’ clinical and research interests focus on the health care needs of underserved populations. He builds interdisciplinary teams to address health disparities and the societal factors that affect individuals and communities affected by violence. He earned his Master of Public Health (MPH) degree from Vanderbilt in 2002 while serving as a junior faculty member at Vanderbilt University and Meharry Medical College.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Dr. William W. Stead, MDDr. William W. Stead, M.D.

The Annette and Irwin Eskind Family Biomedical Library – Past and Future – Changing What Clinicians Need To Know and How They Learn

Dr. William Stead is Chief Strategy Officer for Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC). In this capacity he facilitates structured decision making to achieve strategic goals and concept development to nurture system innovation.

Dr. Stead received his B.A., M.D., and residency training in Internal Medicine and Nephrology from Duke University. He remained on Duke’s faculty in Nephrology as the physician in the physician-engineer partnership that developed The Medical Record (TMR), one of the first practical electronic medical record systems. He also helped Duke build one of the first patient-centered hospital information systems (IBM’s PCS/ADS).

He came to VUMC in 1991 and holds appointments as the McKesson Foundation Professor of Biomedical Informatics and Professor of Medicine. For two decades, he guided development of the Department of Biomedical Informatics and operational units providing information infrastructure to support health care, education, research programs of the Medical Center. He aligned organizational structure, informatics architecture and change management to bring cutting-edge research in decision support, visualization, natural language processing, data mining, and data privacy into clinical practice. His current focus is on system-based care, learning and research leading toward personalized medicine and population health management.