U.S. Assistant Surgeon General Susan Blumenthal to speak at Vanderbilt

NASHVILLE, Tenn. ñ Susan Blumenthal, a leader in bringing women’s health issues to the forefront of American public policy and developing the U.S. government’s "From Missiles to Mammograms" program, which utilizes missile and target recognition technology to detect breast cancer, will be the first speaker in Vanderbilt University’s Chancellor’s Lecture Series for 2003-04.

Blumenthal, U.S. assistant surgeon general and senior medical, science and e-health adviser with the Department of Health and Human Services, will speak at Vanderbilt on Tuesday, Sept. 30. Her lecture, "Health in the 21st Century: Opportunities and Challenges," will begin at 6 p.m. in Ingram Hall at the Blair School of Music. A reception will precede the lecture at 5 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

A rear admiral in the U.S. Public Health Service, Blumenthal considers herself at the frontlines of the public health battles facing Americans, such as those against heart disease, cancer and AIDS. Antibiotics, vaccinations and, perhaps most importantly, education serve as the weapons in her arsenal. Since Sept. 11, 2001, the battle has expanded significantly to include global health and the national response to terrorism.

Although she focuses on a wide range of public health issues, Blumenthal has been a leader in bringing attention to the medical concerns facing women. Discouraged that the health profession had long been dominated by and centered on men, Blumenthal strove to give women a voice in the national health care debate. "When I got to medical school, we learned about the 180-pound male," she said recently at the Virginia-based Women’s Center’s 18th Annual Leadership Conference. "Never once did he go through menopause or have ovarian cancer. Is it surprising, then, that we trained generations of physicians not to be sensitive to gender differences in the causes, treatment and prevention of diseases in women?"

Seeking to merge her military background with her public health interests, Blumenthal developed the "From Missiles to Mammograms" program. Inspired during the first Gulf War by U.S. satellite technology that could detect missile silos or tanks from miles away, Blumenthal wondered why that same technology couldn’t be usedóalbeit on a much smaller scaleóto detect tumors in women’s breasts. She assembled a group of 60 scientists to discuss the idea of a "cross pollination" between satellite imaging and medicine, and the resulting technology is currently in use at many hospitals.

Blumenthal is clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown and Tufts schools of medicine and a distinguished visiting professor of women’s studies at Brandeis University. An author and editor of many scientific articles and books, she has served as a health columnist for U.S. News & World Report. The New York Times calls Blumenthal one of the top 12 doctors in the women’s health field, and The Medical Herald has named her "one of the most influential women in medicine."

The Chancellor’s Lecture Series at Vanderbilt serves to bring to the University and the wider Nashville community those intellectuals who are shaping the world today.

For more news about Vanderbilt, visit the Vanderbilt News Service homepage at www.vanderbilt.edu/news.

Media Contact: Kara Furlong, (615) 322-NEWS kara.c.furlong@vanderbilt.edu

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