Thursday, December 3, 2009

SEASON TWO FINALE: This Sunday Dec. 6 (12 p.m. ET), with Pulitzer Prize winner Tracy Kidder

It's hard to believe, but this Sunday (December 6 at 12 p.m. ET), we will air our 18th and final episode of Season 2 -- a season in which we have featured a variety of perspectives on the medical profession. Many of those perspectives have been presented by acclaimed physician-authors. You can see our Episode Guide in the right sidebar for the full list of guests this season, but they include authors Samuel Shem, Michael Collins, Sandeep Jauhar, Conrad Fischer, Elissa Ely, and Robert Marion.

So, we thought it was only fitting that we close our Season 2 -- the "Season of Seasoned Authors" -- with one of the most renowned writers in the country. This Sunday, our special guest will be Tracy Kidder (above), author of Mountains Beyond Mountains -- a book that has become somewhat iconic in medical circles for its powerful description of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Harvard professor and renowned infectious-disease specialist who becomes a leader in international health in his quest "to cure the world."

Kidder -- already a Pulitzer Prize winner -- drew praise for his account of Dr. Farmer. From The New York Times review: "Mountains Beyond Mountains is inspiring, disturbing, daring and completely absorbing. It will rattle our complacency; it will prick our conscience. One senses that Farmer's life and work has affected Kidder, and it is a measure of Kidder's honesty that he is willing to reveal this to the reader."

Kidder graduated from Harvard University and also studied at the University of Iowa. In addition to the Pulitzer Prize, he has won the National Book Award, the Robert F. Kennedy Award, among many other literary prizes. He has authored a number of books -- including Mountains Beyond Mountains, The Soul of a New Machine, Among Schoolchildren, House, My Detachment, Home Town, and Old Friends.

He is also the author of the recently released Strength in What Remains, and we will discuss this new book in great detail on Sunday. At the heart of the book is a story so unbelievable that you can hardly believe it's nonfiction -- the story of a young man from Burundi who escapes genocide, only to arrive at JFK Airport in New York City with only $200 in his pocket and no knowledge of the English language. Ultimately -- and amazingly -- he goes from sleeping on park benches in Central Park to attending medical school at Columbia University. And he eventually returns to Burundi to help those whom he left behind.

Join us this Sunday for what will be a special Season 2 Finale! Live streaming audio will be available here on the blog at 12 p.m. ET, and of course, the podcast will be available on our iTunes page shortly thereafter. Season 3 will premiere January 3, 2010.

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Meet the Hosts

Avash Kalra is a medical student at the Boonshoft School of Medicine at Wright State University. He is a 2005 graduate of Cornell University, where he majored in Psychology. Before starting medical school, Avash worked for one year at the National Institute on Aging in Baltimore, Maryland, where he conducted research on lifespan extension. He then worked for one year as a clinical research coordinator in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

Avash was born in England and lived there for 11 years. He spends his free time working as a staff writer for an NCAA hockey website. Over time, he has developed unhealthy obsessions with college hockey, poker, and the Dave Matthews Band. His favorite television shows include Lost, 24, Dexter, and Curb Your Enthusiasm. He is now an avid reader... of medical textbooks. He frequently points out that he has "the perfect face for radio." And -- as you'll discover -- he likes puns.

Lakshman Swamy is a medical student at the Boonshoft School of Medicine at Wright State University. He is a 2005 graduate of the College of Wooster in Wooster, OH, where he self-designed the Neuroscience major. Before joining medical school, Lakshman worked for two years in the Trapp lab at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation as a lab technician working with multiple sclerosis.

Lakshman is a young gentleman in the MD/MBA program at Wright State, and accordingly, his favorite character on Scrubs is Dr. Kelso. He has an eclectic taste in music, loves audiobooks -- especially mysteries -- and watches 24, M*A*S*H, and Battlestar Galactica. Yes, two of those shows have run their final season -- he is also constantly behind the times. He has NO idea what he wants to do with his life, but he is sure it will involve turning down the position of Surgeon General for bigger and better things.

Shamie Das is an MD/MBA dual degree student at the Boonshoft School of Medicine at Wright State University. He graduated from Emory University in 2004 as a dual major in Biology and Sociology. He went on to earn his Masters Degree in Public Health in 2007 from the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University. As a graduate student, he also performed bench research in Molecular and Cell Biology at the Emory University School of Medicine. In his free time during college, Shamie volunteered as an EMT-Intermediate and went on to become certified as a Paramedic.

Shamie was born in England and soon after moved to the US. In his free time he enjoys photography, traveling and fine cuisine. A few of his life goals are to visit every continent and climb Everest. An avid extremist, Shamie enjoys leaping out of perfectly good airplanes, white water rafting and jumping headfirst into gorges. Recently engaged, he also spends countless hours on the phone with his fiancée. His favorite authors include Hemingway, Frost, and Crichton (and of course Robbins). Television is a thing of the past in his current life, but occasionally he still watches PBS and listens to NPR and (of course) Radio Rounds.