Physician; researcher; director, World Trade Center Wellness Program, Stony Brook Univ.; expert, infectious diseases, environmental medicine
Dr. Benjamin J. Luft is the Edmund D. Pellegrino Professor of Medicine at the Stony Brook Medicine and an internationally recognized expert in the treatment of Lyme disease and AIDS-related conditions.
More aptly, he is also a renowned expert in 9/11 Medicine, and Director of the Stony Brook WTC Wellness Program.
In 2001, Dr. Luft, a native New Yorker, responded to 9/11 as Chair of the Department of Medicine at the State University of New York at Stony Brook (Stony Brook University). At that moment, his path inextricably intertwined with the 9/11 responders. Through his leadership, vision, creativity and compassion, he established a comprehensive 9/11 clinical center on Long Island for the 9/11 responder community, which currently serves over 8,000 patients.
Over the years, Dr. Luft’s center has been an incubator for inventive programs that have benefited not only its patients but also medical students, the local community and most recently, society at-large.
Today, the Stony Brook WTC Wellness Program receives over $15 million in funding for clinical care, cutting edge research, and multiple innovative community-outreach and education programs.
Dr. Luft initiated the very influential and highly acclaimed program, "Remembering 9/11 Oral History Project." With over 500 hours of conversations with 9/11 responders and their family members, this collection offers the diversity of over 300 voices and is preserved in partnership with the Library of Congress as the principal collection of eye-witness testimony on 9/11 and the human impact.
Dr. Luft’s vision for these responder stories extends beyond collection and preservation. He believes the raw, emotional authenticity of these voices will serve a larger purpose in our own healing. On the tenth anniversary of 9/11, "60 Minutes" recognized the importance of these stories by featuring Dr. Luft and his oral history program in an hour-long program.
To date, Dr. Luft has published a book, and created a documentary film on the oral history program that debuted at the 2011 Stony Brook Film Festival. The film was later adapted for television in collaboration with public television stations WLIW21 and WNET13. His collection of oral histories is used by educators for high school and college curriculums and courses on 9/11 and a variety of other public education venues.
Dr. Luft has an especially keen insight into the complexity of the experience of 9/11. It is a gift gained from his willingness to embark on the difficult journey with the 9/11 responders and bear witness to their courage, sacrifice, pain and healing.