Dr. Abraham Verghese to Give John P. McGovern Lecture on Oct. 24

Best-selling Author, Physician Launches India Studies Program at UH

The University of Houston (UH) has invited best-selling author and noted physician Abraham Verghese to give the John P. McGovern Endowed Lecture in Family, Health and Human Values at 7:30 p.m., Monday, Oct. 24 at the UH Hilton Hotel, Grand Ballroom.  

“As an Indian-American immigrant to the United States, Dr. Verghese’s varied professional accomplishments make him a perfect fit to inaugurate the new India studies program at UH,” said Lois Zamora, chair of the department of comparative and cultural studies, College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences (CLASS). “Dr. Verghese will address his work in medicine, the medical humanities and his work as a writer.”  photoverghese

The goal of the Indian studies program is to promote teaching and scholarship focused on the history, politics, economics, languages, religion and culture of India. Beginning in fall 2012, UH will offer minors in India studies and comparative cultural studies.

“UH began the process of creating an India studies program almost six years ago,” said CLASS Dean John Roberts. “The current initiative represents an attempt to revitalize the program due, in large part, to our continuing recognition of the importance of India as a civilization of both historic and contemporary significance in the development of world culture. It also represents the importance of the Indian community in Houston, a city with one of the largest Indian populations in the United States.”

Verghese’s novel, “Cutting for Stone,” No. 1 on the Independent Booksellers paperback fiction list, is a novel about an Indian boy born and raised in Ethiopia and trained as a physician in the U.S. (all true of the author himself.)  Verghese is also known for his work with AIDS patients and his emphasis on imagining the patient’s experience. In his memoirs, “In My Country” and “The Tennis Partner,” he empathizes with his patients and describes their experiences in all their ethical and medical complexity.

“In My Country” is about the AIDS epidemic in the early ‘80s, when Verghese was working in a small town in Tennessee. “The Tennis Partner,” is set in El Paso, his first academic post, and traces the cocaine addiction of one of Verghese’s medical students. In both of these medical memoirs, Verghese presents himself as a young physician keenly aware of his cultural and educational differences.  His outsider's powers of observation work to make the reader an insider, showing how compassion and expertise combine to provide the best medical treatment possible, even when the odds are stacked against both physician and patient.

Verghese is professor of the theory and practice of medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine and senior associate chair of the department of internal medicine. He is a founding director of the Center for Medical Humanities & Ethics at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio.

The John P. McGovern endowment was established in 1999 and supports the John P. McGovern Annual Award Lectureship in Family, Health, and Human Values in CLASS at UH. This series focuses on speakers with notable expertise in the areas of family, health and human values. Each speaker is presented with the John P. McGovern Award Medal.


John P. McGovern Lecture featuring Abraham Verghese

Introduction by UH Professor Chitra Divakaruni


7:30 – 8:30 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 24

8:30 – 9 p.m.  Reception and Book Signing


 Free and open to the public.

For more information, contact Anjali Kanojia at akanojia@uh.edu



Hilton University of Houston, Grand Ballroom

4800 Calhoun Road, Houston, Texas 77204-3902


Off Calhoun Road, Entrance 1 – parking in UH Welcome Center Garage



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