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2016: Reimagining

Conference 2016:
Reimagining Social Medicine

On April 30, 2016 The Social Medicine Consortium held its inaugural conference at the University of Minnesota. With more than 800 attends, this day of vision and possibility launched a movement. Below are videos and slides memorializing the event. 

Watch: Conference Video
Review: Resources and Keynote Slides


  • Opening remarks with Dr. Edward Ehlinger, Health Commissioner of Minnesota
  • Presentation by Dr. Heidi Behforouz of Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital
  • Presentation by Dr. Fitzhugh Mullan of George Washington University
  • Presentation by Dr. Joia Mukherjee of Partners in Health
  • Panel Presentation featuring Dr. Paul Pierre (PIH, Haiti), Dr. Sande Ojara (Lacor Hospital, Uganda), Dr. George Thibault (Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation), Dr. Grace Akello, and Dr. Amy Finnegan (University of St. Thomas), moderated by Dr. Jon Halberg (University of Minnesota, Minnesota Public Radio)
  • Breakout sessions (see below)
  • A conversation with Dr. Paul Farmer
  • Closing remarks and call to action

Breakout sessions:

  • Transformative Models of Social Medicine Education
  • Social Medicine in the Clinic: Narrative Medicine and the Social History*
  • Bridging Clinic and Community: Interdisciplinary and Multisectoral Action to Address the Social Determinants of Health
  • Bearing Witness and Accompaniment: The Role of Community Health Workers in Achieving Health Equity 
  • Disruption and Discomfort: Social Movements Pushing Towards Health Equity

Learn more about the breakout sessions here


Dr. Grace Akello




Grace Akello is a Medical Anthropologist trained in the Netherlands.  She attained her Master and Doctoral degrees from the University of Amsterdam and Leiden University respectively. She is currently a senior lecturer and coordinator of a pioneer Master of Medical Anthropology Program at Gulu University in Uganda.


Dr. Heidi Behforouz

Heidi L. Behforouz, M.D. Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School and Associate Physician in the Division of Global Health Equity at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) has focused her career on the health issues of the urban poor and practices primary care in the Jen Center at BWH.  She is Founder and past Executive Director of Partners In Health’s Prevention and Access to Care and Treatment (PACT) project in Boston, Massachusetts which employed community health workers to advocate for the health and wellbeing of inner city residents infected with or at risk for HIV and other chronic diseases.  Dr. Behforouz is committed to the transformation of primary care to better serve the needs of the most vulnerable patients in our communities and is hopeful that the integration of community health workers into health homes can help reduce disparities and improve outcomes among this population.

Dr. Edward Ehlinger

Dr. Ehlinger currently serves as the Health Commissioner for Minnesota. Prior to being appointed commissioner, Ehlinger served as director and chief health officer for Boynton Health Service at the University of Minnesota, from 1995 - 2011. He has also served as an adjunct professor in the Division of Epidemiology and Community Health at the U of M School of Public Health.  From 1980 to 1995, Ehlinger served as director of Personal Health Services for the Minneapolis Health Department. Dr. Ehlinger has received various awards in the domain of public health and health justice, including the Albert Justus Chesely Award from the Minnesota Public Health Association, and the Advancement of Justice Award from the Hennepin County Bar Association. In 2014, he lead the landmark report, "Advancing Health Equity in Minnesota," and in 2013, established the Center of Health Equity. 

Dr. Paul Farmer

Dr. Paul Farmer, physician and anthropologist, is chief strategist and co-founder of Partners In Health, Kolokotrones University Professor and chair of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and chief of the Division of Global Health Equity at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. He also serves as U.N. Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Community-based Medicine and Lessons from Haiti. Dr. Farmer has written extensively on health, human rights, and the consequences of social inequality. His most recent books are In the Company of the Poor: Conversations with Dr. Paul Farmer and Fr. Gustavo Gutiérrez,Reimagining Global Health: An Introduction, and To Repair the World: Paul Farmer Speaks to the Next Generation.

Dr. Amy Finnegan

 Amy is Assistant Professor and Chair of Justice and Peace Studies at the University of St. Thomas in St Paul, Minnesota. Amy is also the co-director of SocMed (, a social justice organization working to expand the conversation on and engagement with the social determinants of health through education and movement building.  She is a sociologist, teacher, researcher, and activist who is particularly keen on building spaces and opportunities for constructive dialogue across divergent perspectives.



Dr. Fitzhugh Mullan

Fitzhugh Mullan is Murdock Head Professor of Medicine and Health Policy, Professor of Pediatrics, and Co-Director of the George Washington University Health Workforce Institute. From the challenges of meeting the needs of the uninsured in the District of Columbia's inner city, to the struggle against HIV/AIDS in Africa, Professor Mullan's career has focused on community health delivery, health workforce, and health professions education.  In recent years his work has focused health worker migration including the medical brain drain in Africa and the many challenges health system reform in the United States. "Health equity at home and abroad is the principle that unifies my work," he says.

A pediatrician whose far-reaching career has included clinical, administrative and editorial responsibilities in both the public and the private sector, Dr. Mullan is also a cancer survivor and the Founding President of the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship. Cognizant of the importance of communicating with both lay and professional audiences, Dr. Mullan is a contributing editor to Health Affairs and the founding editor of that journal's "Narrative Matters" section, a prolific book reviewer, and author of a number of general-interest books, including White Coat, Clenched Fist: The Political Education of an American Physician and Big Doctoring in America: Profiles in Primary Care. Prior to joining the School's faculty in 1998, Dr. Mullan directed the Bureau of Health Professions in the Department of Health and Human Services, earning the rank of Assistant Surgeon General. Dr. Mullan is the founding Board Chair of Seed Global Health and a member of the National Academy of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.

Dr. Joia Mukherjee

Dr. Mukherjee is associate professor of medicine in the Division of Global Health Equity, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, and associate professor of global health and social medicine at Harvard Medical School. In the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, she directs the Master of Medical Science - Global Health Delivery Program and the Program in Global Medical Education and Social Change. She teaches infectious disease, global health delivery and human rights to health professionals and students from around the world. She has helped to create new residency and fellowship training programs for Rwandan and Haitian physicians as well as global health residencies and fellowships for US trainees at Harvard and other American universities.  

Dr. Mukherjee’s scholarly work focuses on the provision of health as a human right and on the implementation of complex health interventions in resource-poor settings.

Dr. Mukherjee is a graduate of the University of Minnesota Medical School, trained in infectious disease, internal medicine, and pediatrics at the Massachusetts General Hospital, and has an MPH from the Harvard School of Public Health.  Since 2000, Dr. Mukherjee has served as the chief medical officer of Partners In Health, a nonprofit focused on reducing global health disparities by strengthening health systems through public sector support and community-based programs.  She provides strategic guidance on the implementation of clinical programs at PIH’s sites in Haiti, Rwanda, Malawi, Lesotho, Peru, Mexico and Russia and has served as an expert consultant for the World Health Organization and Ministries of Health on of HIV, TB, health systems strengthening and health work force development.

Dr. Mukherjee also serves on the board of directors for Last Mile Health (Liberia), Village Health Works (Burundi) and Muso (Mali) and advises various grassroots organizations throughout the developing world in their work to deliver health care with a human rights based approach to the poorest of the poor.

Dr. Sande Ojara

Sande is a medical officer at St. Mary's Hospital Lacor and possesses a MBChB with a Diploma in Clinical Medicine and Community Health. He plays an integral part in laying the groundwork for the course throughout the year, and coordinates several course community field visits.



Dr. Pierre Paul

Dr. Pierre Paul is a physician and public health specialist who has been collaborating with Partners In Health for the last 13 years.   Dr. Pierre earned his medical degree from the “Universite d`Etat d`Haiti” in 2002. Then he joined PIH-Haiti (Zanmi Lasante) and worked at its infectious disease clinics, first at Hospital Bon sauveur in Cange, and later at Hospital Sainte Therese in Hinche. After four years of work as a general practitioner in some of the poorest areas in central Haiti, Dr. Pierre went to study in France and the United States on two academic scholarships, respectively, from the European Aids Clinical Society (EACS) in 2006 and from the Fulbright program in 2007. Dr Pierre received his Master of Public Health degree from the University of Arizona in 2009 and went to work in Africa as the Director of Community Programs at Partners In Health, Malawi. He returned to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake and led the delivery of health care and other social services at PIH`s Internal Displaced Peoples Camp in the Port-Au-Prince area in the immediate aftermath of the disaster. Dr Pierre later served as a Senior Advisor for Zanmilasanteand Deputy Executive Director of the University Hospital at Mirebalais until October 2013. He went back to Malawi to serve briefly as the Interim Executive Director for Partners In Health-Malawi between February and June 2013. His commitment to investing in the next generation of health professional is evident as he served for a year as the Program Director of Leadership Development and Talent Management at Partners In Health.  Dr Pierre has extensive experience managing complex health care operations that deliver comprehensive health care to vulnerable population. Dr Pierre is currently a fellow in Global Health Delivery at Harvard Medical School and  serves Deputy Chief Medical Officer for PIH. 

Dr. George Thibault

George E. Thibault, MD became the seventh president of the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation in January 2008.  Immediately prior to that, he served as Vice President of Clinical Affairs at Partners Healthcare System in Boston and Director of the Academy at Harvard Medical School (HMS). He was the first Daniel D. Federman Professor of Medicine and Medical Education at HMS and is now the Federman Professor, Emeritus.

Dr. Thibault previously served as Chief Medical Officer at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and as Chief of Medicine at the Harvard affiliated Brockton/West Roxbury VA Hospital. He was Associate Chief of Medicine and Director of the Internal Medical Residency Program at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). At the MGH he also served as Director of the Medical ICU and the Founding Director of the Medical Practice Evaluation Unit.

For nearly four decades at HMS, Dr. Thibault played leadership roles in many aspects of undergraduate and graduate medical education. He played a central role in the New Pathway Curriculum reform and was a leader in the new Integrated Curriculum reform at HMS. He was the Founding Director of the Academy at HMS, which was created to recognize outstanding teachers and to promote innovations in medical education. Throughout his career he has been recognized for his roles in teaching and mentoring medical students, residents, fellows and junior faculty. In addition to his teaching, his research has focused on the evaluation of practices and outcomes of medical intensive care and variations in the use of cardiac technologies.

Dr. Thibault is Chairman of the Board of the MGH Institute of Health Professions, and he serves on the Board of the New York Academy of Sciences, the Institute on Medicine as a Profession, and the Lebanese American University. He serves on the President’s White House Fellows Commission and for twelve years he chaired the Special Medical Advisory Group for the Department of Veteran’s Affairs. He is past President of the Harvard Medical Alumni Association and Past Chair of Alumni Relations at HMS. He is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.

Dr. Thibault graduated summa cum laude from Georgetown University in 1965 and magna cum laude from Harvard Medical School in 1969.  He completed his internship and residency in Medicine and fellowship in Cardiology at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH).  He also trained in Cardiology at the National Heart and Lung Institute in Bethesda and at Guys Hospital in London, and served as Chief Resident in Medicine at MGH.

Dr. Thibault has been the recipient of numerous awards and honors from Georgetown (Ryan Prize in Philosophy, Alumni Prize, and Cohongaroton Speaker) and Harvard (Alpha Omega Alpha, Henry Asbury Christian Award and Society of Fellows).  He has been a visiting Scholar both at the Institute of Medicine and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and a Visiting Professor of Medicine at numerous medical schools in the U.S. and abroad.
Special thanks to the Josiah Macy, Jr.  Foundation for conference sponsorship.


The Social Medicine Consortium is deeply  grateful for the supporters who have made the 2016 conference possible. 

Organizations and Institutions


Dr. Howard Hiatt

Chris Adams: Graphic design (

Eric Gottesman (

Jeff and Rita Nonher, Audiovisual support (