I recently had the privilege of being an invited speaker at the 11th U.S.-Japan Symposium on Drug Delivery Systems Conference in Maui. The symposium was co-sponsored by the Japanese Society of Drug Delivery Systems, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Kyoto University and offered a unique opportunity for interaction among attendees from academia and industry between Japan and the United States My talk was entitled “Regenerative engineering: Drug delivery of effector molecules” and highlighted the work at the Institute for Regenerative Engineering including research by Dr. Lakshmi Nair and Dr. Kevin Wai Hong Lo.
I so appreciated the hospitality provided by the organizers. I want to thank Professor Robert Langer, my mentor, for co-organizing such a fine meeting.
The Cobb Institute, founded by the National Medical Association (NMA) is focused on the elimination of disparities in health and healthcare that disproportionately affect African Americans. Disparities in health among, racial and ethnic groups in the US are significant and, by many measures, continue to increase.
The institute is named for William Montague Cobb, who dedicated his life to turning prejudice into pluralism. The first black physical anthropologist to earn a Ph.D. and the only one until the Korean War, Dr. Cobb’s work focused on the consequences of segregation and racism, and he used his work to confront these issues. Dr. Cobb served as president of the National Medical Association from 1964-65. In 1976, he became president of the NAACP, a post he held until 1982.
As a physician-scientist involved in research on health disparities and its affect on health status in this country, I am acutely aware of the need for community education and outreach. Bringing effective health care to the underrepresented populations of this country is my mission inf serving as the Chair of the Board for the W. Montague Cobb/NMA Health Institute.
Thanks to the leadership of the W. Montague Cobb/National Medical Association (COBB) Health Institute, especially Dr. Randall Morgan our Executive Direcotr, and thanks to the leadership of the National Medical Association for helping to make Dr. Cobb’s dream a reality.
On Monday, we will commemorate the 83rd anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birth. Reflecting on his legacy, I recall 2 speeches I gave in 2011. On 2 vastly different subjects, they shared the commonality of challenge. At the National Institutes of Health, I was fortunate to be asked to provide last year’s NIH National Day of Remembrance Speech in honor of Dr. King. In the 1960s, he challenged the status quo, fighting for racial justice and an end to racially based disparities. Even now, 43 years after his death, Martin Luther King continues challenging us to carry on that battle.
Last June, I spoke at the 25th anniversary celebration of the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS). The theme was “Meeting the Grand Challenges.” I talked about the scientific work the Institute for Regenerative Engineering is doing here at UConn, work with the potential to revolutionize the field. Mainly, though, I talked about the people doing that work. We have been very, very blessed here at the Institute. We have brought together a wonderful group of scientists of diverse backgrounds—all good people—with protean interests that work together.
I constantly think of Dr. King’s challenge: “What are you doing for others?” It is my hope that all of us keep that in mind as we face the challenges ahead in science, in medicine, and, most importantly, in our lives as members of our local and global communities.