Category: Past Lectures


6th Annual Lecture – Carol W. Cassella, MD

“Words at the Heart of Healthcare: how fiction can heal both patients and physicians”

The speaker for our 6th annual lecture held October, 2016 was Carol W. Cassella, Novelist, Physician.

Carol Cassella is a practicing physician and the national bestselling author of three novels, Oxygen (2008), Healer (2010), Gemini (2014). All were Indie Next Picks and have been published in multiple foreign languages. Her books have been finalists for the Washington State Book Award, and highlighted as top choices by Library Journal, BookList, Harpers Bazaar, People Magazine, Poets & Writers, Women’s Day, and USA Today, among others. She frequently appears as a speaker and teacher at literary events and conferences throughout the United States.

Carol majored in English Literature at Duke University and worked in publishing before attending medical school. She is board certified in both internal medicine and anesthesiology and wrote for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation prior to her career in fiction. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post and other web and print sites. She is a board member of Seattle7Writers, a non-profit supporting literacy in the Pacific Northwest, and has served on medical organizations working in Nicaragua and Bhutan. Carol lives on Bainbridge Island, Washington with her husband and four children and is currently writing her fourth novel.

Video of the lecture:

Dr David Roland Byrd

5th Annual Lecture – David Roland Byrd MD

“The Surgeon Talks! – Before and After the Knife”

The date for the 5th Annual McClellan Lecture was October 17, 2015, at Chism Auditorium, Hall of Music, Whitman College. Our speaker was David Roland Byrd, MD.

Dr David Roland ByrdDr Byrd is the Chief of Section for Surgical Oncology (cancer surgery) at the University of Washington School of Medicine. He was the surgeon who introduced in the Northwest use of the now-routine sentinel-node biopsy technique. A graduate of Tulane University Medical School, he is board-certified in general surgery (residency at the University of Washington) and has completed a surgical fellowship in cancer treatment at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. He is renowned not only for his expertise in the surgical treatment of a number of different cancers, but also for his dedication to the teaching and support of surgical residents. His concern for patients with cancer extends beyond the technical aspects of their surgical care, to say the least, and for this, too, he has earned the respect and admiration of his colleagues in all specialties.


Video of the lecture:

Dr. John Leonard – Professor of Medicine, Emeritus

4th Annual Lecture – John Leonard MD

October 18, 2014

The 4th Annual McClellan Lecture was October 18, 2014, at Chism Auditorium on the campus of Whitman College.  Our speaker for this lecture was John Leonard, MD.  The title of Dr. Leonard’s McClellan Lecture was: Finding the Person in the Patient.

Dr. John Leonard – Professor of Medicine, Emeritus
Dr. John Leonard – Professor of Medicine, Emeritus

John Leonard is a faculty physician-educator in the Department of Medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee. He received his medical degree from Vanderbilt in 1967, and then completed two years of residency training at the Yale-New Haven Medical Center, followed by two years as an Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer with the Center for Disease Control. Dr. Leonard returned to Vanderbilt in 1971, where he completed his residency in Internal Medicine, and served as the Hugh J. Morgan Chief Resident in Medicine before pursuing subspecialty training in Infectious Diseases.

Since joining the faculty in 1974, Dr. Leonard has practiced general internal medicine, and has regularly served as a faculty attending on the inpatient medicine service and as a consulting physician in infectious diseases. From 1983 to 2003, he was Director of the Residency Training Program in Internal Medicine, and in this capacity provided oversight of the Core Medicine Clerkship for 3rd year medical students. More recently, he has directed the Physical Diagnosis course for 2nd year students, their introduction to clinical medicine.

Over the course of his career Dr. Leonard has nurtured the professional development of a great many students and residents, and has been the recipient of numerous teaching awards at Vanderbilt. The School of Medicine Alumni Association honored him with the Distinguished Alumni Award in 2012, on which occasion it was remarked that: “Dr. Leonard is one of Vanderbilt’s most loved teachers by both medical students and Internal Medicine residents, who demonstrates by his personal integrity, high academic standards, and most of all by his compassionate demeanor, what it means to be a Vanderbilt physician.”

Video of the lecture:


3rd Annual Lecture – Danielle Ofri, MD

photo credit: Joon Park
Dr. Danielle Ofri

November 16th, 2013

Internist, mother, spouse, writer, editor, cellist…
Bellevue Hospital, New York, NY.

The speaker for the 3rd annual James McClellan Lecture was Dr. Danielle Ofri.  Danielle is the author or editor of six books, several highly acclaimed, which include What Doctors Feel and Medicine in Translation. She contributes commentary on medicine and on the connection between doctors and patients to the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, among other national publications. These writings have been selected for Best American Essays and Best American Science Writing. Her lectures are renowned for dramatic storytelling. Perhaps her most important gift to us to date has been to make us a witness to what it’s like to be a doctor, a humanist, and a humorist, not to speak of a loving parent and spouse, all while serving some of the most disadvantaged of all Americans—and aspirants to becoming American—under time-pressured stress that’s a match for any that we, her colleagues, might nominate. See

Video of the lecture:

Dr. William H. Foege

2nd Annual Lecture – William Foege, MD

Dr. William H. Foege
William H. Foege, MD, MPH
Prof. Emeritus of International Health
Emory University

William H. Foege is an epidemiologist who worked in the successful campaign to eradicate smallpox in the 1970s.   Dr. Foege became Chief of the CDC Smallpox Eradication Program, and was appointed Director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control in 1977.  He attended Pacific Lutheran University, received his medical degree from the University of Washington, and his Master’s in Public Health from Harvard University.

In 1984, Foege and several colleagues formed the Task Force for Child Survival, a working group for the World Health Organization, UNICEF, The World Bank, the United Nations Development Program, and the Rockefeller Foundation.  Its success in accelerating childhood immunization led to an expansion of its mandate in 1991 to include other issues which diminish the quality of life for children.

Dr. Foege joined the Carter Center in 1986 as Executive Director, Fellow for Health Policy and Executive Director of Global 2000.  In 1992, he resigned as Executive Director of the Carter Center, but continued in his role as a Fellow and as Executive Director of the Task Force for Child Survival and Development.  In January 1997, he joined the faculty of Emory University, where he was Presidential Distinguished Professor of International Health at the Rollins School of Public Health.  In September 1999, Dr. Foege became a Senior Medical Advisor for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  In October 1999, Dr. Foege resigned as Executive Director of the Task Force for Child Survival and Development. Dr. Foege retired from Emory University in December of 2001,  however he remains active as Presidential Distinguished Professor Emeritus of International Health. He has recently retired from his role at the Gates foundation as Senior Fellow, but continues to contribute to their work in global health.
Dr. Foege has championed many issues, but child survival and development, injury prevention, population, preventive medicine, and public health leadership are of special interest, particularly in the developing world.  He is a strong proponent of disease eradication and control, and has taken an active role in the eradication of Guinea worm, polio and measles, and the elimination of River Blindness.  By writing and lecturing extensively, Dr. Foege has succeeded in broadening public awareness of these issues and bringing them to the forefront of domestic and international health policies.

Dr. Foege is the recipient of many awards, holds honorary degrees from numerous institutions, and was named a Fellow of the London School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in 1997.  He is the author of more than 125 professional publications.

Video of the lecture:


1st Annual Lecture – Salman Akhtar, MD

Our 1st Annual McClellan Lecture was held October 28, 2011 at The Marcus Whitman Hotel & Conference Center.

TOPIC: A Psychoanalytic View of Prejudice: Why Is Prejudice So At Odds With
A Doctor’s Duty?

LECTURER: Salman Akhtar, MD

Internationally acclaimed psychoanalyst and author; Professor of Psychiatry, Jefferson Medical College, and Director of Psychiatric Outpatient Services, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, Philadelphia, PA


Thomas Alderson Davis, PhD, Professor of Philosophy, Whitman College

Salman Akhtar, MD, Professor of Psychiatry, Jefferson Medical College

Robert Arnold Johnson, MD (moderator), Psychiatrist, Walla Walla, WA


An MP3 audio file of the 2011 Lecture by Dr. Salman Akhtar is now available to stream online or download for listening on your iPod or other MP3 player: