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University of Nebraska Medical Center

Dr. Gilsdorf will present history of medicine lecture

Janet Gilsdorf, MD, will present at the 13th annual Richard B. Davis, MD, PhD, History of Medicine Lecture on April 22 from noon to 1 p.m.

Dr. Gilsdorf will share stories based on her book, “Continual Raving: A History of Meningitis and the People Who Conquered It.” The book tells how scientists across the 19th and 20th centuries defeated the deadly brain infection meningitis — not through flawless research but through a series of serendipitous events, misplaced assumptions and flawed conclusions. The result shows not just how a disease is vanquished but how scientific accomplishment can sometimes occur where it is least expected. 

The event will be hybrid, with limited in-person attendance at the Wigton Heritage Center atrium and online via Zoom. Registration for Zoom is required. Dr. Gilsdorf will hold a book signing after the event. 

The library will hold a drawing for Dr. Gilsdorf’s book, and people can enter the drawing through April 20. Winners will be notified by email on April 21.

Dr. Gilsdorf, an alum of the UNMC College of Medicine, is the Robert P. Kelch Research Professor Emerita in the University of Michigan Department of Pediatrics. She is an infectious diseases physician at C. S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where she participates in the diagnosis and management of pediatric patients with complex infectious diseases and in the clinical training of medical students, pediatric residents and pediatric infectious diseases fellows.

She has published more than 100 articles of original research, most centering on the epidemiology, molecular characteristics and pathogenesis of Haemophilus influenzae. She is a past president of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society and received the PIDS Distinguished Physician award in 2012.

She also is the author of “Inside/Outside: A Physician’s Journey with Breast Cancer” (U of Michigan Press) and “Ten Days” (a novel from Kensington Books). She has published several personal essays in the Journal of the American Medical Association Emerging Infectious Diseases, Health Affairs and The Examined Life. In 1999, she was awarded the Journal of Internal Medicine Award for Prose.

The Richard B. Davis, MD, PhD, History of Medicine Lectureship brings national experts to the UNMC campus to discuss the history of medicine, in support of special collections at the McGoogan Library, including rare books and works on the history of medicine. The lectureship is supported through an endowed fund given by the late Richard B. Davis (1926-2010), MD, PhD, who was a UNMC faculty member from 1969 to 1994 and professor emeritus of internal medicine at UNMC. Dr. Davis and his wife, Jean, provided support for the lectureship out of his longstanding interest in the history of medicine.

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