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Anne Mayhew Distinguished Honors Lecture Series featuring Abraham Verghese


Noted Physician, Best Selling Author Abraham Verghese to Give UT’s Mayhew Lecture

KNOXVILLE—The first doctor to admit AIDS patients to Tennessee hospitals will talk about his experiences as a physician, professor and bestselling author when he delivers the fourth annual Anne Mayhew Distinguished Honors Lecture at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, on Sept. 25.

Dr. Abraham Verghese is senior associate chair and professor of medicine at the Stanford University School of Medicine. He is also the author of a novel and two non-fiction books, including “My Own Country: A Doctor’s Story” (1995) about his experience with AIDS patients in Tennessee, which was selected by TIME magazine as a “Best Book of the Year.”

Verghese’s lecture, “The Search for Meaning in a Medical Life,” is free and open to the public. It will begin at 7:30 p.m. in Cox Auditorium in the Alumni Memorial Building. A book signing will follow the lecture, and Verghese’s books will be sold on site.

Born to Indian parents teaching in Ethiopia, Verghese grew up near Addis Ababa and began his medical training there. When the Ethiopian emperor was deposed, Verghese and his parents fled to the United States where Verghese worked as an orderly before returning to complete his medical education at Madras Medical College in India.

After graduating, he returned to the U.S. where he was a medical resident at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City from 1980 to 1983. He moved to the Northeast for a fellowship at Boston University School of Medicine, working at Boston City Hospital for two years as the AIDS epidemic was beginning.

Returning to ETSU as an assistant professor of medicine, he began treating AIDS among the area’s rural population.

“He cared for a seemingly unending line of young AIDS patients in an era when little could be done other than help them through their premature and painful deaths. Long before retrovirals, this was often the most a physician could do and it taught (him) the subtle difference between healing and curing,” according to his website.

After chronicling his experiences, Verghese became interested in writing and attended the Iowa Writers Workshop at the University of Iowa, where he earned a Master of Fine Arts degree. His writing has appeared in publications including The New Yorker, Texas Monthly, Atlantic, The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, Granta,, and The Wall Street Journal.

Verghese also practiced medicine at Texas Tech Health Sciences Center in El Paso, Texas, and was the founding director of the Center for Medical Humanities & Ethics at the University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio.

He has been at Stanford since 2007.