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College of Public Health

Leading Voices Art Event
Contact: Brad Lifford
January 20, 2011

JOHNSON CITY Since 2006, East Tennessee State Universitys Leading Voices in Public Health lecture series has brought some of the worlds most respected authorities on health issues to Johnson City, but one voice has been missing from the mix. Dr. Randy Wykoff, dean of the ETSU College of Public Health, said that will change with the next lecture, An Evening of Health, Wellness, and the Arts.

The goal of the Leading Voices Lecture Series is to expose our students, faculty and community partners to some of the most important health perspectives of our time, Wykoff said. We have had elected officials, government leaders, private sector authorities, noted clinicians and internationally respected academicians. The one voice that we havent had, however, is that of the patient.

The special Evening of Health, Wellness, and the Arts is designed to bring that voice to us, in a way that is both entertaining and especially poignant.

An Evening of Health, Wellness, and the Arts, being held Thursday, Jan. 27, at ETSUs Martha Street Culp Auditorium, will feature two performances that provide the patients perspective, as well as photographs of patients from the Niswonger Childrens Hospital. Part one, Dispatches from the Other Kingdom: The Cancer Journey, is an oral history theater piece from the ETSU Storytelling Program, and part two will feature touring actor David Nathan Schwartz performing his one-man, autobiographical show, My Brain Tumor: A Mind Expanding Comedy. The event begins at 7 p.m. and is free and open to the public.

The Leading Voices Lecture Series is presented by the ETSU College of Public Health. This presentation is co-sponsored by the Gold Humanism Society and the Division of Hematology/Oncology at the James H. Quillen College of Medicine; the Department of Art and Design and the Division of Theatre and Dance in the College of Arts and Sciences; and the Storytelling Masters Program in the Clemmer College. Support for the photographic artwork is provided by the Niswonger Childrens Hospital.

Dispatches from the Other Kingdom was conceived and directed by Dr. Joseph Sobol with members of the ETSU Storytelling Program. Sobol, an ETSU professor and director of the nationally-known Graduate Program in Storytelling, worked with students to create the theater piece based on cancer patients own personal narratives. The patients stories are being collected as part of a groundbreaking collaborative research study with ETSUs James H. Quillen College of Medicine and Division of Oncology funded by the National Institutes of Health. Sobol says the performance shows the power of stories of illness and healing to speak to our common humanity.

Schwartz, who has been a working actor and teacher in Los Angeles for many years, wrote My Brain Tumor: A Mind Expanding Comedy, as a comedic account of his experiences within the maze of medicine, including a life-threatening operation, losing his voice and eventually reclaiming it through another medical procedure. He has performed his one-man show at a variety of venues, even medical schools.

This will be a truly special evening, unlike any that we have had before, Wykoff said. I hope we get a great audience to hear this very special voice.

For more information or to request special assistance, call (423) 439-4597 or send e-mails to

The Leading Voices in Public Health series includes two additional events during the spring 2011 semester. On Feb. 17, Ambassador Eric Goosby will discuss his work as U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and the global partnership that is needed to fight HIV.

On March 3, Dr. Greg Diette, who is an associate professor and expert on the epidemiology of lung diseases at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, will present The Mouse, the House, and the Hamburger: Making Sense of the Asthma Epidemic.
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