I am currently immersed in a small seminar group at Harvard sponsored by the National Science Foundation. This is the fourth such conference that I have attended designed to explore the physical bases of health and aging. The title of our meeting is "Aging and Failure in Biological. Physical, and Material Systems. It brings together a wide spectrum of attendees, physicists, mathematicians,engineers, and geneticists. I am the token M.D. I strive to play my role with my erudite conferees.
Our meeting site is only two blocks away from Memorial Hall where in 1949 I first met my wife to be for over 63 years . She had lived just up the street. I was from Philadelphia. We met at Harvard Summer school. My physician father attended Harvard College 1915, and Harvard Med 1921. Dad had extracted me from an inappropriate girlfriend relationship, and figured that Harvard Summer School was an excellent idea. It worked. Ruth Anne and I began a really long romance only interrupted miserably last summer by Alzheimer's Disease. I had been accepted at Harvard undergraduate program in 1947 but chose to go to Williams College, and then eventually turned Harvard Med down as well to go to Penn. Dad had been involved in many advisory councils at Harvard and brought me along on administrative errands where I met all sorts of deans and heads of major departments. I was super saturated with Harvard leading to my decision to look elsewhere for my training. Good decision! Too much of a grand place is still too much.
Subsequently I have had many other Harvard encounters often associated with the 15 or so Boston Marathons that I have run including the fateful bomb punctured run of 2013. I recall one year in which near the finish I was listing sternly to the starboard. Two Harvard Med students emerged to be my gyroscope for the last two miles. I have had many scientific colleagues here, Ralph Paffenbarger (Paff) was one of my most respected. I had dinner last evening with CJ Patel who is one of my Stanford postdocs who was recruited away to Harvard , because he got so hot at Stanford, and now has his own lab at the School of Public Health at Harvard.. Today I encountered Dr. Alan Garber, an old Stanford colleague and medical economist, and is now the Provost at Harvard. I am good friends with Dr. Eddie Phillips Prof. of Med Harvard, who founded the wonderful Institute for Lifestyle Medicine here that we have cloned at Stanford. I have lectured for him and he has returned the favor to me. Further, Rick Joseph is a brilliant friend and colleague. Next week he is graduating from Stanford with double degrees in medicine and business. I would love to take a few shares out on his future. He will be starting his residency in medicine at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital which is the temple of American Medicine associated with Harvard.
So this resume reflects the many interactions that Harvard has provided me. I feel greatly enriched by the encounters. I thank Dad for the introduction.
There is of course an ongoing competition between my home church of Stanford and Harvard. They both boast of the brightest applicants, huge endowments, Pulitzer and Nobel Prizes, and gifted students. One advantage Sanford has over Harvard is our athletic program that is clearly superior. And our weather is better too.
I return to Palo Alto tomorrow with fresh Harvard memories and ideas. I must come back to Boston to another meeting next week to the American College of Sports Medicine where I am sure I will encounter my Harvard buddies again.