Washington, DC and Philadelphia, PA
Place of Birth
Tel Aviv, Israel
MS in Biochemistry, University of Oxford
PhD in Government, Harvard
MD, Harvard Medical School
Why did you choose to come to Amherst?
It was sort of a crazy decision, but there were 2 main reasons. The first was there was a highly regarded student from my high school who was a few years ahead of me (Rick Levy '77) who was at Amherst. And I figured if Amherst was good enough for him, it was good enough for me.
The second reason was when I went on tours of Harvard, Amherst and Yale, I didn't like Harvard, and when I visited Yale in 1974, it was a rainy, dreary day and the buildings hadn't been cleaned. When I visited Amherst, it was an ideal fall weekend. It was the first weekend in October and I went to Memorial Hill. It was just spectacular - the hills were covered in reds, yellows and oranges -it was heaven. I spent the night in DKE with Rick Levy and that night, he and several friends were studying for a chemistry exam. We hung out and I helped them study. It was such a blast, being a high school student interacting with college students on an intellectual level. I loved it.
Favorite (most memorable or most influential) class at Amherst:
Politics, Punishment & Culture
Favorite (most memorable or most influential) professor:
Most influential George Kateb who taught a Keenan seminar on democracy.
Shakespeare with Ben DeMott was spectacular.
I learned so much from Austin Sarat as a teacher - I learned how to teach and engage, using the Socratic method and really interacting with students. He inspired me as a teacher.
Tom Kearns and Jan Dizard were excellent professors.
I loved my physical chem classes too.
I'm currently working on health policy related material about how to improve the delivery system of care, make it more efficient and higher quality. I'm working on a book for the New Year on our complicated American healthcare system, but I'm also working on MOOCs - I am currently teaching two MOOCs: American Healthcare System and One Rationing.
Awards and Prizes
Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences
Hippocrates medical ethicist of the year
Roosevelt University social justice award
American Society of Clinical Oncology policy award
Impossible! I'm re-reading Moby Dick with a friend. I read it in college and it's just amazing, phenomenal. I'm wildly taken with it.
I've read a lot of different authors, but I'm a big Shakespeare fan. Living in DC I get to see at least four Shakespeare productions a year at the Folger library.
Tips for aspiring writers?
I don't consider myself a writer but I do write. What's most important is to revise, revise, revise. I was a terrible writer at Amherst. My writing tutor fired me, and I spent six years working on my writing in graduate school. Writing is a hard craft, and I'm happy to work hard at it. Amherst gave me the skills for lifelong learning to push myself and keep at something and you'll improve. Keep writing!
Tell us a bit about your path to becoming an author
This is my fourth book, but the other three are on medicine and health policy and I've edited five or six other books. Writing is a way of expressing yourself and getting big ideas down. I used to hate writing and now I really enjoy it. Once your ideas are clear, you can connect with your audience. It was hard work though.