Moving beyond the Ice Bucket Challenge: A conversation with neuroscientist and author Lisa Genova, Ph.D.

News & Events

Healthy Nevada Speaker Series guest Lisa Genova, Ph.D.

While the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge certainly began a national dialogue about ALS, Lisa Genova, Ph.D., urges us to continue the conversation.

Please join us Monday, Nov. 5 at the Joe Crowley Student Union for the 2018 University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine's Healthy Nevada Speaker Series featuring Genova, a Harvard-educated neuroscientist and New York Times bestselling author of “Every Note Played.” Doors open at 4:45 p.m. and the presentation begins at 5:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

“Every Note Played” is Genova's latest fictional novel and an intimate look at the final months of a concert pianist who loses control of his most treasured instrument—his body­.

“Every Note Played” explores themes of regret, pain, forgiveness and how we become paralyzed from the past, excuses, blame or fear.

Through “Every Note Played,” Genova urges us to understand more about ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease—what it's like to have your body betray you on a top-secret schedule, and what it's like to wait for your next body part to wave the white flag and go mute.

As with Genova's other novels, including “"Left Neglected,” “Love Anthony” and “Still Alice,” her narrative gives voice to the important supporting players who do the collective heavy lifting when chronic illness sets up shop-spouses, children, parents who care for parents, home health workers, nurses, doctors and neighbors. “Still Alice” was also adapted into a film starring Julianne Moore, who won the 2015 Best Actress Oscar for her role as Alice Howland.

“These diseases, disorders and conditions don't just happen to one person, they happen to the community,” Genova said in a recent interview with UNR Med.

Although caregiving duties can take a tremendous toll emotionally and financially—and statistically fall 75 percent on women, Genova noted—the rewards can net positive. In Genova's books, which explore themes like Alzheimer's disease, traumatic brain injury, autism and Huntington's disease, caregiving can provide a window for emotional healing and closure, although the process is seldom tidy.

“What I have seen is that caregiving can be an opportunity to bring people together or tear them apart,” Genova said. “I've seen this become a very sacred opportunity to care for a loved one.”

At the same time, Genova said she is careful not to romanticize these stories, acknowledging, “It's brutal and it's chronic.”

Through her writing, Genova ultimately seeks to educate, demystify and inspire support and care for scientific research, so that “Every Note Played” and similar novels end differently, like our modern narratives of AIDS and polio.

In that alternate universe, Richard would continue to play concert halls and attend Grace's graduation. Alice would maintain her prestigious speaker schedule, know the baby she holds is her granddaughter and is in the audience when Lydia accepts a Tony Award for “Angels in America.”

Until then, we will seek to create A Healthy Nevada with thought-provoking speakers like Genova. We hope you will join us.

Please join us for this important evening with Dr. Lisa Genova.  


Media Contacts

Julie Ardito, APR
Senior Director, Advancement and Engagement
Office: (775) 784-6006

Tessa Bowen
Communications Manager, Advancement and Engagement
Office: (775) 682-9254

The University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine is a community-based, research-intensive medical school with a statewide vision that has served Nevada for 50 years. The state's first public medical school, UNR Med fosters a healthy Nevada through excellence in medical education, medical care, research and community engagement, within a culture of respect, compassion and inclusion. Through targeted growth and investment in research, clinical services, education and outreach, UNR Med is improving the future of health care. For more information, visit our 50th anniversary website.

Released: Monday November 5, 2018 @ 11:45 AM