The Humanitarian Side of Medicine

The LAU Gilbert and Rose-Marie Chagoury School of Medicine has announced the winners of a groundbreaking essay competition, conducted in collaboration with Hektoen International, an online journal of the medical humanities.

The journal, a subsidiary of the Hektoen Institute ­­– a non-profit health-service, educational, and research organization based in Chicago, Illinois – strives to bring culture into medicine and expose healthcare professionals to a wide range of literary, artistic, and social topics. The collaboration was the inspiration of Dr. Cherilyn G. Murer, former vice chair of the LAU Board of Trustees and chair of the Health Services Committee, and the contest was generously sponsored by Hektoen International’s leadership.

Launched in May, 2021 and open exclusively to the school of medicine, this project was well aligned with the school’s efforts to expand humanities in the medical curriculum.

All members of the school of medicine community, including students, faculty, residents, fellows, non-teaching staff and alumni, were invited to contribute essays on the overall theme The Glory of Lebanon.  Entries were subjected to a rigorous, blinded screening process, where the de-identifed compositions were reviewed by local judges and by journal staff in Chicago.

The local panel was comprised of three full-time faculty members of the LAU Gilbert and Rose-Marie Chagoury School of Medicine: Dr. Carmel Bouclaous, Dr. Nancy Chedid, and Dr. Joseph Stephan.

In accordance with the terms of the contest, authors of the first- and second-place essays received monetary prizes, and the opportunity to have their work published in Hektoen International. Additionally, in view of the large number and high quality of the submissions, the editors elected to publish four other entries nominated by the LAU panel.

The selected essays touched on a variety of subjects, including the history of medicine in Lebanon, the contributions of Lebanese physicians abroad, and the experiences of healthcare workers in times of crisis – such as the aftermath of the August 4 Beirut Port explosion.  Many contestants thanked the organizers for providing the impetus for reflection, expression, and in some cases, for rekindling their love for writing.

The winning authors and the titles of their essays are as follows:           

First Prize:


Ms. Maryline Alhajj, second-year medical student

“The Great War, and the Other War!”
Second Prize:


Dr. Najat Fadlallah, alumna

Dr. Julian Maamari, alumnus

Dr. Abeer Hani, faculty


“When Strangers Step In: The Glory of Lebanon During Catastrophe”
Dr. Elie Najjar, alumnus “The One Thousand and One Faces of Lebanon”
Dr. Jonathan Mina, alumnus and Post-doctoral Research Fellow “The Glory of Lebanon: A Thumbprint in Medicine”
Dr. Nohad Masri, alumna and Postgraduate Clinical Fellow “Disaster Code”
Dr. Rima Nasser, faculty “The Glory of Lebanon Revisited”


In this era of social upheaval, virtual interaction, and burgeoning technology, the unique collaboration between the LAU Gilbert and Rose-Marie Chagoury School of Medicine and Hektoen International has reminded us of the vital connection between humanism and medicine.