Noted History of Medicine Professor Alexandra Stern to Speak at University of Houston

Houston, TX, March 23, 2012 --( The University of Houston (UH) has invited a noted professor in the history of medicine, Alexandra Stern, to give the John P. McGovern Endowed Lecture in Family, Health and Human Values at 7 p.m., Monday, April 9 at the Rockwell Pavilion in the M.D. Anderson Library.

“The College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences (CLASS) at the University of Houston is very pleased to have Dr. Stern as the 2012 McGovern Lecturer in Family, Health, and Human Values,” said Catherine Patterson, associate dean of graduate studies and professor of history. “A leading expert in the history of genetics, Dr. Stern has explored a range of topics from eugenics policies in early 20th-century America to the ethical implications of the Human Genome Project. Her work investigates how health policy decisions impact individuals and families while exploring the ethical questions underlying those policies. Her current work on genetic testing is both timely and important. As medicine rapidly pushes the boundaries of what is possible, it prompts new questions about the social and ethical implications of medical advancements.”

Stern will present “Don’t Reduce Me to a Label: Disability Rights, Genetic Diagnosis, and Social Values.” She will speak on the origins of genetic counseling in the 1940s and discuss how the first generation of medical geneticists stigmatized people with disabilities, while simultaneously laying the groundwork for empowerment and activism. Her presentation will trace this tension over the course of the 20th-century, as medical geneticists and genetic counselors became increasingly supportive of people with disabilities and the disabilities rights movement.

Stern is the Zina Pitcher Collegiate Professor in the History of Medicine at the University of Michigan. She is the author of “Eugenic Nation: Faults and Frontiers of Better Breeding in Modern America,” which won the America Public Health Association’s Arthur Viseltear Award for outstanding contribution to the history of public health. Her forthcoming book, from which the talk is draw, “Telling Genes: The Story of Genetic Counseling in America,” will be published by John Hopkins University Press in September 2012.

The John P. McGovern Endowment was established in 1999 and supports the John P. McGovern Annual Award Lectureship in Family, Health, and Human Values in CLASS at UH. This series focuses on speakers with notable expertise in the area of family, health and human values. Each speaker is presented with the John P. McGovern Award Medal.

John P. McGovern Lecture Features Noted Medical Historian Alexandra Stern “Don’t Reduce Me to a Label: Disability Rights, Genetic Diagnosis and Social Values”

Monday, April 9
6 p.m. Reception – Please RSVP to
7 p.m. Lecture and Q&A

Free and open to the public.
For more information, call 713-743-3000.

University of Houston
Rockwell Pavilion in the M.D. Anderson Library
Entrance 1 off Calhoun Road, Parking is available in Lot 1E

About the University of Houston
The University of Houston is a Carnegie-designated Tier One public research university recognized by The Princeton Review as one of the nation’s best colleges for undergraduate education. UH serves the globally competitive Houston and Gulf Coast Region by providing world-class faculty, experiential learning and strategic industry partnerships. Located in the nation’s fourth-largest city, UH serves more than 39,500 students in the most ethnically and culturally diverse region in the country. For more information about UH, visit
University of Houston
Melissa Carroll
(cell) 832-489-5844