Newsletter: Week of September 19, 2016

From the Program Director

Sarah Chandonnet

In 2010, Sonia Vallabh watched her 52 year old mother die of a rapid, mysterious, undiagnosed neurodegenerative disease. One year later, Sonia learned that her mother's disease had been genetic, and that she herself had inherited the causal mutation, making it very likely she would suffer the same fate in 20 years' time. There was no prevention, treatment, or cure available.

Despite having no prior training in biology, Sonia and her husband Eric Minikel set out to re-train themselves as scientists and devote their lives to searching for a treatment or cure for her disease. They quit their jobs in consulting, started a scientific blog, began taking night classes and attending conferences, found new jobs in research labs, and eventually enrolled as PhD students in biology at Harvard Medical School. They are now based in Stuart Schreiber's laboratory at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and have launched a new therapeutic initiative to discover drugs for her disease.


Join us for a conversation with Sonia and Eric about the role of humanism in their lives, and the themes of mortality, community, and the brain. 1:30-3:00pm, 30 JFK Street. Read more here.
Upcoming Programs

Oct 2: Emerson Baker: The Salem Witch Trials and the American Experience
Salem State Professor of History and author of A Storm of Witchcraft: The Salem Trials and the American Experience will discuss the lessons can we learn from the Salem Witch Trials: what did we learn? How does it apply today? 1:30-3:00pm, 30 JFK Street. Read more here.

Oct 9: Joe Gerstein: Growing a Global Network of Addiction Recovery Beyond Belief

Join us as we honor Dr. Joe Gerstein with our 2016 Harvard Humanist of the Year Award for his work over the last 25 years as the founding president of SMART Recovery, which we view among the greatest examples of community service in the history of modern humanism. 1:30-3:00pm, 30 JFK Street. Read more here.

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Get Involved!
9/25: Sing-Along 
1:00: Our first monthly community sing-along/music event this fall, featuring Hub music director Antje Duvekot. Read more here.
2016 Speaker Series
View our entire Fall speaker series here. All programs are free and open to the public.
Harry Potter in the Harvard Gazette!  
Check out this featured piece in the Gazette about Assistant Chaplain Vanessa Zoltan, and the Harry Potter as a Sacred Text class and podcast! Read it here.
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