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Flexner Deans’ Lecture Series

Two physicians and a medical student sit on stage with comedian and advocate Jon Stewart
Jon Stewart, comedian, advocate, and television host, was part of a panel discussion on advocacy as part of the Flexner Deans’ Lecture Series at Vanderbilt University on Friday, April 21, 2023. Other panelists included Robert Miller, MD, Patricia and Rodes Hart Chair in Medicine; Walter Clair, MD, Vice Chair for Diversity and Inclusion, and Ayesha Muhammad, MD, PhD, a fourth-year medical student. Photo by: Susan Urmy/Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Physicians of Tomorrow, Meet the Leaders of Today

How can you connect your medical training to your personal calling? What are the newest and next frontiers in medicine? And what does it mean to be a truly exceptional physician?

To answer these pressing questions, the Flexner Deans’ Lecture Series brings you into conversation with physicians who are pushing the boundaries of their medical calling.

Have you ever wondered about…

  • Uncovering a public health crisis? We brought in Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, who helped unearth the Flint water crisis and lead recovery efforts.
  • Doing medicine aboard a space shuttle? Dr. Drew Gaffney came to campus to speak about his experience as a former Senior Flight Surgeon-Astronaut.
  • Dedicating your career to underserved populations? Dr. Kimberly Manning, aka “The Grady Doctor,” shared the lessons she’s learned from everyday teaching experiences at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta.
  • Applying stand-up comedy to your specialty? Dr. William Flanary, aka “Dr. Glaucomflecken,” blended his characteristic humor and education to deliver a talk on his career as a joke-telling ophthalmologist.

From renowned epidemiologists to MD TikTok sensations, the medical superstars that come to campus through FDLS will do more than share life-lessons. They’ll challenge you to think critically about your own medical calling and future.

Many Lectures, Hundreds of Campus-Wide Ripples

With a new speakers during the academic year, FDLS inspires powerful waves of conversation across VUSM’s campus.

  • Gather with the medical student community each month for a lunch and lecture with the speaker.
  • Join a small group for informal dinner conversation with the speaker at a classic Nashville eatery.
  • Explore the talk’s pressing questions further with the students and faculty in your learning communities and colleges.
  • Submit your own proposal for a student lecture.
    Each year, medical students apply to deliver a half-hour talk during the spring semester, and the entire community comes out to support the two chosen speakers.

A Student-Energized Tradition

With roots stretching back to an unscheduled Deans’ Hour in the early 2000s, this open block in the curriculum morphed into a formal lecture opportunity under the direction of Bonnie Miller, MD, who was in her role as Associate Dean for Medical Student Affairs at the time.

Now, a student team cultivates the vision for the series each year, brainstorming speakers, soliciting feedback from the student body, and hosting the lectures in collaboration with the Office of Medical Student Affairs. Interested in joining the team? Applications to serve a three-year term on the committee go out each spring semester.

Spring 2024  Lecture Series

Please note: Upcoming events will held in person.

April 29, 2024
Noon, 214 Light Hall
Dr. Quinn Capers

“Standing Firm: Making the Evidence-Based Argument for Diversity in Medicine Amidst the “Anti-DEI” Backlash”


March 25, 2024
Alison Swartz, MS4 and Gunther Wong, VMS III

“Pharmacy Benefits Managers: a Glimpse Behind the Curtain”
Alison Swartz is a current Vanderbilt Medical Scholars Fellow and rising 4th year medical student going into Emergency Medicine. Her passions include providing equitable, affordable care to all and the medical humanities. In her free time, she loves spending time with her husband Brandon (an engineering PhD candidate), running, paddle-boarding, baking, and playing board and tabletop games with friends.

“Duty, Honor, and the Moral Complexity of Wartime Service”
Gunther Wong is a third-year medical student from Rio Rancho, NM. He received his undergraduate and master’s degrees in chemical engineering from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology and subsequently commissioned as an infantry officer in the U.S. Army. In the Army, he served as a Platoon Leader and Executive Officer in the 10th Mountain Division and the 75th Ranger Regiment, and as the operations officer of 5th Ranger Training Battalion. He deployed three times to Afghanistan, including twice as part of the special operations joint task force. He hopes his medical career will reflect a life of duty and faithful citizenship.
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March 4, 2024
Sunita Puri

“Language as medicine: Finding the right words for the right conversations about suffering, mortality, and dying well”
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February 28, 2024

Loyce Pace

“Where Equity Has a Seat at the Table | Global Health Diplomacy”
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January 22, 2024
Heval Kelli, MD

“Finding Refuge, Inspiring Change”
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2023 Fall Lecture Series

November 13, 2023
Noon, 214 Light Hall
Peter Ubel, M.D.

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Oct. 3, 2023
Jonathan M. Metzl, M.D., Ph.D.






“Protest Psychosis: What the Race-Based Overdiagnosis of Schizophrenia in the 1960s Reveals about Today’s CRT Wars”

Sept. 11, 2023
Tonya Fancher, M.D., M.P.H.

“Creating a Diverse and Well-Distributed Physician Workforce: Lessons from California”
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Aug. 11, 2023
John Kello, PhD

High Reliability Healthcare
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2022-2023 Spring Lecture Series

Jun. 12, 2023
W. Christopher Golden, MD, FAAP

“Mitigating Microaggressions to Maximize Medicine: The Time is Now”
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Apr. 24, 2023
Kevin B. Churchwell, MD

The Importance of EDI for Medical Education in the Hospital Setting” 
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Mar. 27, 2023
Alex Lupi, VMS IV & Ekiomoado Olumese, VMS IV

“Flashcards vs Frameworks: Developing a System for Lifelong Learning

Alex Lupi is a recent graduate from Stafford, Virginia. He studied neuroscience at the University of Virginia, where he served as an EMT. He took a gap year to teach adaptive skiing in Aspen, Colorado. At Vanderbilt, he was involved in leading a virtual wilderness medicine lecture series, mentoring pre-med students as Social Mission Committee (SMC) mentorship chair, teaching POCUS, founding the Vanderbilt Clinical Problem Solvers Group. He will pursue a career in emergency medicine and is passionate about improving how we learn in medicine.

“Decolonizing Global Health As A Trainee: A Reflection on Historical Contexts, Lessons from Sierra Leone, and Contributing in a Meaningful Way

Eki Olumese, MPhil, is a recent graduate originally from Maryland. She attended Southern Methodist University for her undergraduate degree, where she developed her interest in the medical humanities. After college, she studied Health, Medicine and Society at the University of Cambridge, completing her dissertation in History of Medicine. Specifically, she studied health policies in 20th century Sierra Leone and the way they shaped Sierra Leone’s contemporary health care system. As a medical student, Olumese served as co-president of SMC, Student National Medical Association (SNMA) academic advisor and underrepresented in medicine recruitment coordinator, and was selected to be an SNMA global health fellow. She also completed her research immersion project in Pediatric Emergency Triage in Kenema, Sierra Leone. Olumese will work at the intersections of global health and health policy as an emergency physician and advocate of marginalized communities. She believes in critically appraising our efforts to work in partnership with international health professionals and globally minoritized communities to find ways to collectively advance health and wellbeing.

Mar. 6, 2023
John L. Tarpley, MD, FWACS, FACSMargaret Tarpley, MLS

“Experiences and Reflections on Medical Education in Sub-Saharan Africa”

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Feb. 21, 2023
Ana V. Diez Roux, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H.

“Improving Health in Cities: A Challenge and Opportunity for Public Health Research and Action
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Jan. 27, 2023
Kay Redfield Jamison, Ph.D.

Headshot of Kay Redfield Jamison

Jamison discusses her research in mood disorders, personal experiences shared in “An Unquiet Mind,” and more from her powerful book, “Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide,” an important wellness topic within the MD community
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Jan. 5, 2023
Alex Jahangir, MD, MMHC

A Fireside conversation with Dean Donald Brady and Dr. Alex Jahangir about his book “Hotspot: A Doctor’s Diary from the Pandemic” – “Leadership Lessons Learned While Leading Through the Pandemic”
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2022-2023 Fall Lecture Series

Please note: Upcoming events will held in person. 

Dec. 12, 2022
Jay Wellons, III MD, MSPH

“’You Tell my Baby’s Story for All the World to Hear’ – The Communal and Redemptive Act of Storytelling in Medicine”
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Nov. 21, 2022
Qaali Hussein, MD, FACS

“Leading in a Hostile Work Environment”
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Oct. 25, 2022
Dr. Wes Ely

“Every Deep-Drawn Breath: Vanderbilt’s Role in Revolutionizing ICU Care Globally”
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