Medical Humanities Initiative

About the Medical Humanities at Georgetown

The Georgetown Medical Humanities Initiative is a cross-campus collaboration between Georgetown College, the Georgetown Humanities Initiative, and Georgetown School of Medicine. The program brings the fields of medicine, humanities, arts, and social sciences into conversation in order to achieve these aims:

  1. Develop community and cultivate meaningful partnerships across campuses
  2. Engage faculty and students across Georgetown
  3. Contribute to scholarship and activism in the growing fields of medical humanities and social medicine

Through interdisciplinary courses open to undergraduates and medical students, speaker series, and research mentorship, the Medical Humanities Initiative strives to re-center health and healing in a broader social, cultural, and historical context, and emphasizes the tools of the humanities which are traditionally left out of STEM disciplines.

Our work aligns with Georgetown University’s core educational mission and Jesuit values, particularly cura personalishealth practitioners cannot treat “the whole patient” without recognizing and valuing their humanity (belief systems, values, cultural differences, etc.). The need for creative, transdisciplinary collaboration has become more apparent than ever during our current global crisis. Through expanding pedagogy, establishing such collaborative relationships, and fostering critical research, the Medical Humanities Initiative aims to contribute to this frontline response.


Meet the Director: Lakshmi Krishnan, MD, PhD

Portrait of Lakshmi Krishnan
Portrait of Lakshmi Krishnan

Lakshmi Krishnan, MD, PhD, is a historian of medicine, medical humanities scholar, physician, and Faculty Director of the Georgetown Medical Humanities Initiative. A first-generation immigrant born in Bombay, India, she also grew up in the United Kingdom before settling in the States. Her research focuses on diagnosis and clinical reasoning. She is writing a cultural and intellectual history of diagnosis and detective practices—The Doctor and the Detective: A Cultural History of Diagnosis (forthcoming, Johns Hopkins University Press). 

More broadly, she is engaged with the relationship between medicine and the humanities writ large. Areas of interest include health equity and the history of health disparities, intellectual history of medicine, 19th century and early 20th century literature and medicine, and cultural responses to illness. This interdisciplinary work seeks to recenter the experiences of marginalized communities, broaden the narrative canon, and promote health equity.

Dr. Krishnan earned her MD from The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and her DPhil (PhD.) in English Literature from the University of Oxford, where she was a Rhodes Scholar. She completed her Internal Medicine residency at Duke, where she was a Faculty Affiliate at the Trent Center for Bioethics, Humanities & History of Medicine, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship in General Internal Medicine and History of Medicine at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She is board certified in Internal Medicine and a member of the American College of Physicians, and practices hospital medicine. Her work appears or is forthcoming in The LancetAnnals of Internal MedicineLiterature and MedicineModern Language Review, Victorian Literature and Culture, and Victorian Poetry, and has won awards from the Academy of Health Communication and National Endowment for Humanities.

Core Faculty & Steering Committee

  • Alfred Acres—Chair of Art & Art History
  • Mary Beth Connell—Associate Dean & Director of Pre-Health Advising
  • Bernard Cook—Associate Dean & Founding Director of Film & Media Studies Program
  • Theodora Danylevich—English, Women’s & Gender Studies
  • Aminatta Forna—Director and Lannan Foundation Chair of Poetics for the Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice
  • Mary Furlong—Associate Dean for Curriculum and Director of Medical Education, Georgetown School of Medicine
  • James Giordano—Chief of Neuroethics, Pellegrino Center for Clinical Bioethics, Georgetown School of Medicine
  • Derek Goldman—Theater & Performance Studies, Co-Director Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics
  • Hunter Groninger—Director of Palliative Care, Georgetown School of Medicine & MedStar Health
  • Tad Howard—Associate Dean
  • Lakshmi Krishnan—Medicine & English, Georgetown Humanities Initiative
  • Julia Langley—Faculty Director of Arts and Humanities Program, Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center
  • Sue Lorenson—Vice Dean for Undergraduate Education
  • Daniel Marchalik—Department of Urology, Director of Physician Wellbeing, Director of Literature & Medicine Track, Georgetown School of Medicine & MedStar Health
  • Timothy Newfield—History & Biology
  • Sylvia Önder—Anthropology, Eastern & Mediterranean Languages
  • Victoria Pedrick—Classics
  • Nicoletta Pireddu—Italian, Comparative Literature, Inaugural Director of the Georgetown Humanities Initiative
  • Michael Pottash—Palliative Care & Clinical Ethics, Georgetown School of Medicine & MedStar Health
  • Dustyn Wright—Director of Student Learning, Georgetown School of Medicine

Courses

Sponsors

The Georgetown Medical Humanities is supported by a Humanities Connections Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.