Here at the Carver College of Medicine, on the campus of the University of Iowa which is famous for its legacy of writing and writers, we are lucky enough to receive occasional visits from some pretty outstanding authors. Recently, during the annual CCOM Reads contest, medical students were encouraged to read author and Iowa Writers’ Workshop Professor Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead, a novel for which she won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for fiction. It’s an account of the memories of John Ames of his father and grandfather, all of whom are Congregationalist ministers in Gilead, Iowa. After the contest was over, we asked Ms. Robinson to visit with the students to talk about her writing of the novel.
|Polio patients in iron lungs in 1952. Photo: Wikipedia
Today Natalie Ramirez, Zhi Xiong, Mgbechi Erondu and Dave Etler got to hang out with a real Pulitzer winner (!) and a nice man, David Oshinsky, PhD. He is the author of Polio: An American Story. From the papers of Jonas Salk, Albert Sabin, and other key players, Dr. Oshinsky records the U.S. public health crisis of polio and the search for a cure in the early 1950s, a frightening time for all Americans.
Dr. Oshinsky taught 20th century U.S. political and cultural history at Rutgers University before moving to the University of Texas at Austin. His other works include A Conspiracy So Immense: The World of Joe McCarthy and Worse Than Slavery: Parchman Farm and the Ordeal of Jim Crow Justice.
He has a lot to say about one of the greatest public health threats of the 20th Century, what it took to bring it down, and why the fight isn’t over.
Special thanks to Michael Welsh, MD, and the members of the 2012 Distinguished Mentor Award committee for the opportunity!