More than 200 pre-med, medical and dental students in Nashville – from Vanderbilt University, Meharry Medical College, Belmont University, Lipscomb University and Fisk University – came together last month, November 1-3, to watch a live stream of the 2017 TEDMED Conference and discuss solutions to today’s most pressing issues in health care, from the opioid crisis to women’s health.
The event, called TEDMED Live, was held on Meharry’s campus and showcased the sessions featured at the TEDMED conference taking place in Palm Springs, California. The students watched the live stream of the talks and held breakout sessions afterwards to share how they can impact change here in Nashville.
A small but mighty group of Meharry students have pulled this event together. The group is led by Alexander Lopez, a third-year Meharry medical student and aspiring neurosurgeon, who spearheaded the event along with several other Meharry students from each of the institution’s schools of study.
Lopez’s own unique background inspired him to apply to host a TEDMED Live event. He began his career in marine biology, which enabled him to participate in a groundbreaking study on how the movements of an octopus’ tentacles and tongue could influence Parkinson’s disease research. While studying the field in Japan, he had the opportunity to be part of a groundbreaking study on how the movements of an octopus’ tentacles and tongue could influence Parkinson’s disease research.
Although marine biology and neurology are on the opposite sides of the education spectrum, Alex saw how the two fields still managed to intersect. The experience spurred in him the belief that more can be achieved when tomorrow’s leaders take an interdisciplinary approach to health care.
“Although marine biology and neurology are on the opposite sides of the education spectrum, it was amazing to see how they still managed to intersect,” said Lopez. “This experience spurred me to believe that more can be achieved if tomorrow’s leaders can take an interdisciplinary approach to health care.”
Lopez used his vision to craft a pitch to organizers of TEDMED, who invited teaching hospitals, medical and nursing schools, schools of public health, academic institutions and government agencies to apply for the opportunity to watch the on-stage presentations live or on-demand. His pitch was accepted, granting students at Meharry and others across the city this special opportunity.
The students found the TEDMED topics to be thought-provoking and inspiring, generating productive conversations, discussions and ideas as they forge ahead in their studies to shape the future of medicine.
In addition, Dr. Veronica Mallett, Meharry’s new dean for its School of Medicine, and President James E.K. Hildreth, PhD, MD, provided remarks during the event. Dr. Mallett spoke on Wednesday evening on the importance of taking an interdisciplinary approach to medicine, and Dr. Hildreth spoke to the students on Friday about the challenges today’s next generation of physicians will have to overcome.