Emory Report
November 8, 2004
Volume 57, Number 11


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November 8, 2004
N.Y. Times reporter Altman to deliver UACT lecture

BY Eric Rangus

Larry Altman, senior medical columnist for The New York Times, will be the featured guest for the fall edition of the University Advisory Council on Teaching (UACT) speaker series. Altman’s talk will take place Monday, Nov. 15, from 4–6 p.m. in the Rita Anne Rollins Room (room 800) in the Rollins School of Public Health, with a reception to follow.

Altman will remain on campus Nov. 16 for meeting with various Emory faculty members.

“Medicine and the Press: Then and Now” will explore two areas about which Altman knows a great deal. A staff writer at the Times since 1969, Altman has won several writing awards and is a three-time recipient of the Howard W. Blakeslee Award from the American Heart Association. His 1999 book, Who Goes First? The Story of Self Experimentation in Medicine, explored groundbreaking research uncovered by
doctors who experimented on themselves.

It was a subject he addressed on the Emory campus during an appearance as part of the Future Makers Lecture Series that year. “Drugs might not have been developed, and surgery would be infinitely more painful without anesthetic gases developed by doctors experimenting on themselves,” Altman said.

Prior to turning to journalism, Altman earned a medical degree from the Tufts University School of Medicine in 1962.

He did his medical internship at Mt. Zion Hospital in San Francisco and was a resident in internal medicine and later a senior fellow in medical genetics at the University of Washington Affiliated Hospitals in Seattle.

In between, Altman spent three years in Atlanta editing the “Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report” at the CDC. He also set up measles immunization programs in Africa and served as chief of the U.S. Public Health Service’s Division of Epidemiology and Immunization in Washington. Currently, he is a clinical professor at the New York University Medical School.

UACT consists of representatives from each of Emory’s nine schools. It assists schools in the development of their own teaching centers and promotes discussion about teaching across the University.

The theme of its 2004-05 speaker series is “Science Literacy/Literate Science,” which speaks to UACT’s goal of bridging any divides between the humanities and the natural sciences.

“We want to make students in the humanities more amenable to science education and science majors more articulate in describing their research,” said James Morey, associate professor of English and chair of UACT’s programming subcommittee.

“Clearly someone like Larry Altman is a perfect speaker. His job is reporting on complex scientific and medical issues,” Morey continued.

Altman satisfies the “literate science” half of UACT’s theme. Taking care of “Science Literacy” on Feb. 10-11, 2005 will be Lynn Margulis, a molecular biologist at the University of Massachusetts.

Writing scholar Peter Elbow delivered the most recent UACT-sponsored address last February.