LOVELL’s FOOD FOR THOUGHT – Rebel With A Cause
Dr. Lovell Jones | 6/12/2016, midnight
Tamra Bentsen, the wife of former Congressman Ken Bentsen of Texas, once referred to me a a rebel with a cause. In fact, she had thought of holding a gala in my honor based on that theme. Unfortunate, the rebel label got in the way of the cause. However, such has not stopped this "boat rocker" for continuing to blend to some large degree both good science and good, healthy activism successfully.
This year will mark the 30th Anniversary of the Biennial Symposium Series on Minorities & Cancer, now Minorities, the Medically Underserved & Health Equity. It will also be the 15th Anniversary of the Health Disparities, Education, Awareness, Research & Training (HDEART) Consortium (www.hdeartconsortium.org), whose roots, and that of the Intercultural Cancer Council (www,interculturalcancercouncil.org) and the Congressional mandate Center for Research on Minority Health (CRMH), can trace its linage to. In the picture are Kay Horsche, the first woman chair of the board of the American Cancer Society; LaSalle D. Leffall, MD, the first African American President of the American Cancer Society; Felicia Jeter, former News Anchor for CBS KHOU; Charles A. LeMaistre, MD former President of the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center; me and Claude D. Organ, first African American chair of a majority surgery department in the United States. It was these individuals who helped launch the first Biennial Symposium on Minorities & Cancer and brought together, for the first time, the leadership of the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute in support of addressing cancer in minority populations. Some have said, this symposium was the spark that led the National Cancer Advisory Board of NCI to create the National Black Leadership Initiative on Cancer (NBLIC) under the leadership of Dr. Louis Sullivan. In 1989, Dr. Sullivan became the US Department of Health & Human Services and received the LaSalle D. Leffall, Jr Cancer Prevention & Control Award at the 2nd Biennial Symposium on Minorities, the Underserved & Cancer.
Now fast forward to 2002, and the creation of the Health Disparities, Education, Awareness, Research & Training (HDEART) Consortium and the launching of the Disparities in Health in America: Working Toward Social Justice Course and the workshop in 2003. The creation of HDEART was fifteen year after that fateful meeting in the Americana Hotel in Bethesda, Maryland, that lead to the creation of the Biennial Symposium Series. From the 1st Biennial to the NBLIC, to ICC, to the Congressional mandate CRMH and now to HDEART, the movement first discussed in that small hotel room continues.
Today, with the help of member HDEART institutions, the 14th Annual Disparities in Health in America: Working Toward Social Justice Workshop will take place at the University of Houston Downtown and will have a good number of underrepresented students and fellows from across the country; continuing that tradition starting with the 1st Biennial Symposium in 1987. Many of those who attend the 1st Biennial, especially those from Hawaii, are now among the ranks of those addressing health inequities. This years, as in the past, many of those who have attended the workshop, as well as the Biennial, not only attend the workshop, but bring their students. Although we have a large data base with many of the names of the students, one goal now is to identify and trace where they are. However, what we can now point to is the many individuals who return every year to participate either as speakers or participants. Let me just highlight two of whom are planing a special role with the workshop, a true milestone. As I continue to move to retirement and look to the next generation to take up the mantel, this year is quite special. For the 2016 workshop, Dr. Lisako McKyer will serve as one of the co-chairs. For those who attended the 2015 workshop, you may not have realized that Lisako stepped in to help when I suffered a stoke and then had to have heart surgery just before the workshop. I can say that she did a masterful job. I soon asked her if she would not mind officially co-chairing the workshop for 2016. With HDEART moving its academic home to Lisako's she had not only assumed the role of co-chair of the workshop, but an appointment to the Advisory Committee of HDEART. I want to thank the leadership of Texas A&M School of Public Health for the time and support in this transition. Having Lisako assume the role is quite special, in that she attended the first workshop in 2003 as a graduate student. Which brings to mind that saying that I continue to repeat from my mentor, Dr. Howard Bern. "Your greatest contribute to science is the people you leave behind." I had the distinct honor and privilege of having Howard as an honored guest at the 6th Biennial Symposium on Minority, the Medically Underserved & Cancer. At one of the evening dinners, Howard leaned over to me and said, Lovell's this is the only way you are going to close the gap. Research will help, but you are going to need more Generals both at the bench and in the community working hand in hand.