Over the past few weeks, I had the privilege of attending several important and festive events in the community on behalf of the Health Center.
In early February was “The Taste of History,” a celebration of African American culture, sponsored by the Amistad Center for Art and Culture and held at the Wadsworth Athenaeum in Hartford. Approximately 300 people attended this event which featured excellent samplings from local restaurants, music and of course, a stunning art collection.
Interspersed with the tasting was a table staffed by Health Center experts who offered advice and information about nutrition and healthy living. Our experts included cardiologist Dr. Anjenette Ferris and nutritionists Deb Downes and Jean Kostak. They did a great job answering questions and helping people brave the buffet that night!
I was delighted that other leaders from the Health Center attended the event as well. This included Dr. Marja Hurley, director of the Aetna Health Professions Partnership Initiative, and Dr. Biree Andemariam, who is part of a new, multidisciplinary program to provide complete care for adults with sickle cell disease.
There was a strong sense of celebration that evening. It made me realize how the Amistad Center and the Health Center share so many common values and goals. We are both dedicated to education, humanism, and helping the community achieve a deeper understanding of our diverse American experience. And like the Amistad Center, we are attuned to our history and at the same time, focused on the future and committed to improving lives on many levels. For those of you who have not visited the Amistad Center, I encourage you to do so.
On the eve of Valentine’s Day, my wife and I attended the annual ball to benefit the Lea’s Foundation for Leukemia Research. Through the years, the Lea’s Foundation has raised more than $2 million and many of those dollars have come back to the Health Center to support research and clinical care, most notably through the Lea’s Foundation Center for Hematologic Disorders, which is part of the Carole and Ray Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center.
The evening was also a great source of pride for the Health Center. The honoree was Dr. Pramod Srivastava, Professor and Chairman of the Department of Immunology and Director of the Center for Immunotherapy of Cancer and Infectious Diseases, and an internationally recognized pioneer in cancer vaccine research. Professor Srivastava gave an inspiring speech about the future of medical care.
The Lea’s Foundation also thanked our School of Medicine and the ongoing commitment of our students to raise money for the Lea’s Foundation every summer through the Coast to Coast for a Cure cross country bike treks. I’ll have a separate communication thanking our students who will bike around the country this summer for this great cause.