American Jewish Experience in Medicine Program

​Spotlighting the history and intellectual contributions of the American Jewish community in medicine and healthcare.​

Helen Morris and heliotherapy

About the Program:

When Helen Morris, MD, graduated from the CU School of Medicine in 1956, she was one of only five women in her class.  After a long and accomplished career in research and teaching, Dr. Morris is celebrated not only for boldly blazing the trail generations of women would follow into medicine, but also for her philanthropy, mentorship, and community service.

A Denver native and child of eastern European immigrants, one of Dr. Morris’ latest gifts is funding the new American Jewish Experience in Medicine Program at the Center for Bioethics and Humanities.  Center Director Matthew Wynia, MD, MPH is excited to be hosting the new program. “Dr. Morris’ gift is incredibly creative and a perfect fit for us, because it exemplifies the intersection of humanities and bioethics by examining how history affects the culture of health care today.”


"Medical Racism and the American Jewish Experience"
 Presentation by Barron H. Lerner, MD, PhD

Followed by a discussion with:

Baron H. Lerner, MD, PhD is a historian of medicine and bioethicist in the Division of Medical Ethics at the New York University Grossman School of Medicine. He has written five books, articles for major medical journals, as well as essays for the New York Times, the Washington Post, Slate, and many other publications. Dr. Lerner is currently the Vice President of the American Association for the History of Medicine.

Gregg Drinkwater, PhD is a visiting Assistant professor at the CU Boulder Program in Jewish Studies.  Drinkwater’s research focuses on sexuality, gender, and Judaism in the modern United States. recipient of the 2020 Wasserman Prize for his article published in American Jewish History, “Queer Healing: AIDS, Gay Synagogues, Lesbian Feminists, and the Origins of the Jewish Healing Movement." 

Alan M. Kraut, PhD is Professor of History at American University and a fellow of the Migration Policy Institute. Specializing in immigration and ethnic history and the history of medicine in the United States, he is the author or editor of nine books and many scholarly articles. Volumes include The Huddled Masses, the Immigrant in American Society, 1880-1921 (1982; 2nd ed. 2001); Silent Travelers: Germs, Genes and the “Immigrant Menace.” (1994); and Goldberger’s War: The Life and Work of a Public Health Crusader (2003).  He is  is the current President of the National Coalition for History and is an elected fellow of the prestigious Society of American Historians. In 2017 Dr. Kraut received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Immigration and Ethnic History Society.

Aletha Maybank, MD, MPH is the chief health equity officer and senior vice president for the American Medical Association (AMA) where she focuses on embedding health equity across all the work of the AMA and leading its Center for Health Equity.  Prior to this, Dr. Maybank served as the founding deputy commissioner for the Center for Health Equity at the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. She was instrumental in infusing equity at the neighborhood level and advancing the department’s place-based approach to addressing health inequities.  Dr. Maybank has taught medical and public health students on topics related to health inequities, public health leadership and management, physician advocacy, and community organizing in health.

Shanta M. Zimmer, MD is the Senior Associate Dean for Education and the Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.   Dr. Zimmer joined CUSOM in June 2016 and a professor of Medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases.   She was recognized for her work in GME with a “Spotlight on Diversity Award” from the Association of Academic Internal Medicine and with the Nadine Gracia Faculty of the Year Award from the Student National Medical Association.   

Read the feature story about about the AEJM Program in CU Anschutz News>>

Dr. Wynia believes the new American Jewish Experience in Medicine Program will expand awareness of the history of Jewish people in the health sciences, using this history to illuminate contemporary challenges and encourage mutual understanding in a multicultural society.  “At most medical campuses history is a neglected branch of the health humanities,” he says, “but our campus is relatively unique in our strong efforts to learn from history. Like Dr. Morris, we believe that learning history is critical for understanding the present and also for building a better future. We won’t be able to create the future we want if we don’t understand how we got to where we are today.”

View a recording of the Inaugural Event on March 14, 2022
Legacies of the American Jewish Health Community: Colorado’s Leading Role in Treating Tuberculosis
Presentation by Jeanne Abrams, PhD, Professor, University of Denver Libraries and Center for Judaic Studies and Director of the Rocky Mountain Jewish Historical Society & Beck Archives.  Featuring respondentsCharles L. Daley, MD, Chief, Division of Mycobacterial and Respiratory Infections, National Jewish Health and Tom Noel, PhD, Professor Emeritus of History and Director of Public History, Preservation & Colorado Studies, University of Colorado Denver.

                                                                        Top right image:  Heliotherapy on porches, Jewish Consumptive Relief Society, circa 1930
                                                                                                    Beck Archives, University of Denver Libraries 

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Link to Giving Page:

For information about donations contact Michael Tortoro at (303) 724-7618
in the CU Office of Advancement.​​​