Past Speakers

Healthy Nevada Speaker Series


Dr. Lisa Genova

Lisa Genove

Harvard-educated neuroscientist Lisa Genova, Ph.D. has been called the Oliver Sacks of fiction and the Michael Crichton of brain science. The New York Times bestselling author of Still Alice, Left Neglected, Love Anthony, and Inside the O'Briens focuses her writing on people living with neurological diseases and disorders who tend to be ignored, feared, or misunderstood, portrayed within a narrative that is relatable to vast audiences. Through fiction, she is dedicated to describing with passion and accuracy the journeys of those affected by neurological diseases, thereby educating, demystifying, and inspiring support for care and scientific research. She has written about Alzheimer's disease, traumatic brain injury, autism, Huntington's disease, and ALS.

Still Alice was adapted into a film starring Julianne Moore, Alec Baldwin, Kristen Stewart, Kate Bosworth, and Hunter Parrish. Julianne Moore won the Best Actress Oscar for her role in the film adaptation of Still Alice in 2015. UNR Med and Joe Crowley Student Union will co-host a free screening of Still Alice on Oct. 25 in preparation for Dr. Genova's visit. Full details and registration are available at

Dr. Genova's latest novel, Every Note Played, is a story of regret, forgiveness, freedom, and what it means to be alive through the lens of ALS. Poignant and powerful, Genova's novel is a masterful exploration of redemption and what it means to find peace inside of forgiveness.


Siddhartha Mukherjee, M.D., Ph.D.

Dr. Siddhartha MukherjeeDr. Siddhartha Mukherjee is a Pulitzer-Prize winning author, assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University and a cancer physician at the CU/NYU Presbyterian Hospital. In his most recent text, "The Gene: An Intimate History," he has written a biography of the gene as deft, brilliant and illuminating as his extraordinarily successful biography of cancer.

Throughout the narrative, the story of Mukherjee's own family-with its tragic and bewildering history of mental illness-cuts like a bright, red line, reminding us of the many questions that hang over our ability to translate the science of genetics from the laboratory to the real world. Riveting, revelatory, and magisterial history of a scientific idea coming to life, and an essential preparation for the moral complexity introduced by our ability to create or "write" the human genome, "The Gene" speaks to everyone concerned about the definition and future of humanity. This is the most crucial science of our time, intimately explained by a master.

Ten years in the making, his first book, "The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer" is a magnificent "biography" of the shape-shifting and formidable disease that has plagued and riddled humanity for thousands of years. Now the subject of a Ken Burns documentary, Mukherjee approaches this crucial subject with the passion and fixation of a biographer and the flourish of a novelist. "The Emperor of All Maladies" is a story that touches on the brilliance, tenacity and serendipitous discoveries that frequently make scientific history.


Bennet Omalu, M.D.

Dr. Bennet OmaluDr. Bennet Omalu was born in Eastern Nigeria in 1968 and lived as a refugee with his family. His socioeconomic status did not stop him from going on to medical school at the age of 15 and becoming a physician by the age of 21. He came to the United States in 1994 on a World Health Organization scholarship, where he completed his post-graduate studies and advanced medical education. He earned his MBA from Carnegie Mellon University and his M.P.H. in epidemiology from the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Dr. Omalu is most notably acclaimed for his discovery of the disease Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) as a major factor of chronic brain damage. He first discovered this while performing an autopsy on NFL legend, Mike Webster of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Dr. Omalu then discovered CTE in eight other deceased NFL players, in professional wrestlers and in military veterans diagnosed with PTSD. Since his breakthrough, his research has forever-transformed sports medicine and neuroscience. In 2015, Dr. Omalu's life and work were chronicled in a book and film (starring Will Smith) titled, Concussion.

In 2015, Dr. Omalu was awarded with the WebMD Health Heroes award and is also a recipient of the United States Sports Academy's highest award, the Dr. Ernst Jokl Sports Medicine Award. He currently resides in Sacramento, California while he continues his work as a forensic pathologist, neuropathologist and epidemiologist.


Rebecca Skloot

Rebecca SklootRebecca Skloot is a science writer and correspondent for NPR's Radiolab and PBS's Nova Science NOW. It took her nearly a decade to research and write The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, which is a New York Times best-seller, was named Best Book of 2010, and has been featured on more than 40 "Best of the Year" lists. Ms. Skloot is the founder of The Henrietta Lacks Foundation which provides financial assistance to individuals in need who have made significant scientific contributions. She also has taught creative writing courses at several universities. She holds her B.S. in biological sciences and her MFA in creative nonfiction. She currently resides in Chicago.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is a fascinating narrative about how Henrietta Lacks grew up as a poor tobacco farmer. She developed cancer and a tissue sample was taken without her knowledge. Henrietta died, but her cells, HeLa cells, continued to live on through developing the polio vaccine, in-vitro fertilization and to advance modern medicine as we know it today. HeLa is now the most widely used cell line all over the world.

Rebecca Skloot became fascinated by the mystery of the life behind these cells, so she ventured out to meet the Lacks family. For years, the family lived a lower-class life, unbeknownst to them the profits biotech companies were making off of HeLa cells. The life of Henrietta Lacks and her family unfolds as Skloot reports on the development of HeLa cells and how the issue of bioethics first came about.


Bill Thomas, M.D.

Dr. Bill ThomasDr. Bill Thomas is known as an innovator in health care and the founder of a global non-profit, The Eden Alternative and Green House Project. This organization aims to improve health care in elderly people. He is the author of several books and is featured in a Sundance award-winning documentary on aging, Alive Inside. He has toured the country offering a theater performance on the topic.

US News and World Report named Dr. Thomas as one of "America's best leaders," because of his desire to change the future of retirement in America. He wants people to reimagine the aging process as a more positive advancing stage. The international expert on geriatric medicine believes that humans become what they think of aging which generally includes disabilities and diseases; however, he hopes to lead a movement in the 21st century to encourage people to take a risk and think of aging in another light.