Monday Moments with President Bergman: October 5, 2020

Gustavus President Rebecca M. Bergman shares her thoughts with College students, faculty, and staff each week.
Posted on October 5th, 2020 by

President Rebecca M. Bergman

At Gustavus, our vision statement calls for us to act on the great challenges of our time. The theme of community and justice that will drive our work this year beckons us to seek equitable solutions that consider the wellbeing of all. This year’s Nobel Conference, Cancer in the Age of Biotechnology, will discuss cutting-edge cancer treatments as well as the societal and structural factors that accompany these scientific breakthroughs. One of the distinctive aspects of this annual signature event is that we deliberately explore the intersection of science and ethics. This year’s topic of cancer treatment takes us straight into questions surrounding health disparities and inequities in healthcare delivery. Please join me as we wrestle with these complex issues by tuning in virtually beginning tomorrow morning.

In today’s era of high-tech medicine and the development of new life-saving drugs and procedures, we see amazing progress in our society’s ability to improve the health of entire populations of people. However, the reality is that there are persistent and systemic patterns of inequities that negatively affect the health of marginalized populations, including racial and ethnic minorities, the elderly, and the economically disadvantaged.

During my years at Medtronic, Inc., I had the privilege of working on the development of novel medical devices that have improved the quality of life for millions of patients. It was highly rewarding to work with physicians to tackle real medical problems and investigate new solutions to complex medical conditions. I came to fully appreciate the challenges inherent in trying to simultaneously improve accessibility, provide better outcomes, minimize the risk of complications or adverse events, and, at the same time, lower the cost of treatment. These same challenges are playing out today as we seek treatments for a novel infectious disease such as COVID-19 or treatments for various forms of cancer. In both cases, scientific breakthroughs help move us forward, and the principles of social justice help us to address inequities in our healthcare delivery system.

Cancer and justice. How do they intersect? How can we advance medical knowledge and, at the same time, reduce health disparities in our nation and across the world? I invite you to participate in the Nobel Conference beginning tomorrow at 10:30 a.m. and throughout the next two days.

Until next week, keep up the good work, Gusties!

With respect,

President Bergman


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