Dean Center Lecture Series


February 1, 2016: Dr. Neil Spector

The talk described the biological similarities between Lyme disease and cancer from mechanisms of therapeutic resistance, systemic dissemination, tissue tropism, metabolic addictions to the impact of molecular heterogeneity. The lessons from the personalized approach to cancer management can therefore inform more effective strategies to diagnose and treat Lyme disease patients. As a survivor of a misdiagnosed case of Lyme disease, which nearly proved to be fatal, Dr. Spector spoke about the lessons that he learned as a physician-scientist who experienced life as a patient living with a chronic illness.

Neil Spector, MD, is the Sandra Coates Associate Professor of Medicine, and Associate Professor of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology at Duke UniversitySchool of Medicine. He is also the Director of the Developmental Therapeutics at the Duke Cancer Institute. He is a leader in applying translational research to the clinical development of molecularly targeted personalized cancer therapies.

Dr. Spector is also the author of “Gone in a Heartbeat: A Physician’s Search for True Healing.” In the book he shares his personal experiences as a physician-scientist who nearly lost his life from a devastating case of misdiagnosed Lyme Disease. In 2009, his 17-year odyssey culminated in an emergent heart transplant after he ended up in an ICU and was given 72 hours to live without a transplant. He lived through it and overcame the odds by learning how to navigate the increasingly complex and often impersonalized nature of our current health care system. Since, he has become an advocate for those with Lyme disease and other difficult-to-diagnose diseases that often fall between the cracks of our current test-driven medical system.

Dr. Spector is on the Advisory Boards for the Bay Area Lyme Foundation, Global Lyme Alliance and the Dean Center for Lyme Disease Rehab at the Spaulding Rehab Hospital, Harvard Medical School. He has been interviewed on The Peoples Pharmacy and The Diane Rehm Show, in addition to other nationally syndicated radio shows. In Nov 2015, he was invited to speak at a White House/American Association of Advancement of Sciences sponsored think tank in DC where he talked about his personal experience as a patient-physician-scientist navigating personalized precision medicine.


March 14, 2016, 12-1pm, SRH Charlestown Conference Room, 1st Floor

Contact: Laura Duerksen

Microbes and Mental Illness: What causes mental illness? Is it the result of a gene and environmental interaction? If so, are microbes a significant contributor? Which microbes are most significant in causing mental illness? What are the pathophysiological mechanisms—inflammation, autoimmunity or some other process? How might this perspective potentially expand our capacity to understand, prevent and treat mental illness?

Robert C. Bransfield, MD, DLFAPA is in the private practice of psychiatry in Red Bank, NJ, is an Associate Clinical Professor at Rutgers-Robert Wood Johnson School of Medicine and has previously held teaching appointments at Hahnemann Medical College, Drexel University School of Medicine and Eastern Virginia Medical School. He is Past President of the New Jersey Psychiatric Association, the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society and the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Educational Foundation. Dr Bransfield is board certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, certified in psychopharmacology by the American Society of Clinical Psychopharmacology and is a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. He earned his medical degree from the George Washington University School of Medicine in Washington, DC and completed a residency in psychiatry at Sheppard and Enoch Pratt Hospital. Dr. Bransfield has an interest in healthcare policy and the association between infections, psychoimmunology and mental illness. He has authored and co-authored a number of publications in peer-reviewed literature, other medical publications, and books; has appeared on network and regional television and radio.