Plenary Speakers

The International Health, Wellness and Society conference will feature plenary sessions by some of the world’s leading thinkers and innovators in the field, as well as numerous parallel presentations by researchers and practitioners.

Carol Braunschweig
Bechara Choucair
James A. Marcum
Joan Wolf

Garden Conversations

Plenary Speakers will make formal 30-minute presentations. They will also participate in 60-minute Garden Conversations – unstructured sessions that allow delegates a chance to meet the speakers and talk with them informally about the issues arising from their presentation.

Please return to this page for regular updates.


The Speakers

Carol Braunschweig
Carol-BraunschweigCarol Braunschweig, PhD, RD recived her PhD from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor MI in Epidemiology. She has served as the Head Dietitian for the University of Michigan Medical Center, Ann Arbor and is currently an Adjunct Associate Professor in the Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Dr. Braunschweig is extensivley published in a variety of journals including the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, American Journal of Health Behavior and most recently in Obesity. Dr. Braunschweig’s research interests focus on three major areas: (1) Assessment of how nutritional intake and non-volitional nutritional support (parenteral and enteral feedings) impact overall risks and clinical outcomes in hospitalized patients; (2) the impact of obesity and body composition on disease risks in various populations including women, the disabled and minority populations; and (3) the design, implementation and assessment of exercise and nutrition interventions for obesity prevention and treatment.

With a five-year NIH grant, she is conducting a clinical trial focused on the impact of enteral nutrition on clinical and immunologic outcomes in malnourished patients with adult respiratory distress syndrome. She also is the co-primary investigator or co-investigator of five other research grants, which examine such questions as how the environment impacts obesity risks in the disabled, how a school-based nutrition and exercise intervention impacts three- to five-year-old children’s fitness and nutritional status, and how a web-based intervention influences maintenance of weight loss in African American women recruited through Chicago area churches.


Bechara Choucair
Choucair1Health5x7-14Bechara Choucair, M.D. is Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health.

Appointed by Mayor Richard M. Daley on November 25, 2009, Dr. Choucair is re-shaping the department to meet the public health challenges of the 21st century.

Born in Beirut, Lebanon, Dr. Choucair earned a Bachelor of Sciences degree in Chemistry (with distinction) and a Medical Diploma from American University of Beirut.

From 1997-2000 he did his Family Practice Residency at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. In 2009 he earned a Master’s Degree in Health Care Management from the University of Texas at Dallas.

From 2001-05, Dr. Choucair served as Medical Director of Crusader Community Health in Rockford, Illinois. From 2005-09, he was Executive Director of Heartland International Health Center. He has served as Vice-chair of Community Medicine, Department of Family & Community Medicine, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University.

Awards he has earned include the Loretta Lacey Maternal and Child Health Advocacy Award, Illinois Maternal and Child Health Coalition, 2009; Health Professions Training and Education Award, National Association of Community Health Centers, 2008; American Academy of Family Physicians Foundation, Pfizer Teacher Development Award, 2007; and Forrest Riordan Humanitarian Award, 2005.


James A. Marcum
James-A-MarcumJames A. Marcum is professor of philosophy and a member of the Institute for Biomedical Studies, as well as director of the Medical Humanities Program, at Baylor University in Texas. He earned doctorates in philosophy from Boston College and in physiology from the University of Cincinnati Medical College. He was a faculty member at Harvard Medical School as a molecular biologist for over a decade before coming to Baylor to join its philosophy department.

His research interests include the philosophy and history medicine and science, especially the role of virtue in clinical medicine. Examples of publications appear in Synthese, Perspectives on Science, History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences, Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, and Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics.

His research interests in the biomedical sciences include the conceptual foundations of systems biology and medicine, especially in terms of understanding carcinogenesis. Examples of publications appear in American Journal of Physiology, Journal of Biological Chemistry, Journal of Cell Biology, Journal of Clinical Investigations, Experimental Cell Research, and Biochemistry.

Recent books include The Conceptual Foundations of Systems Biology: An Introduction. Systems Biology—Theory, Techniques and Application Series. x + 155 pp. Hauppauge, NY: Nova Science Publishers, 2009, An Introductory Philosophy of Medicine: Humanizing Modern Medicine. Philosophy and Medicine Series, volume 99, xv + 369 pp., New York: Springer, 2010, and The Virtuous Physician: The Role of Virtue in Medicine, Philosophy and Medicine Series, volume 114, New York: Springer, forthcoming in 2012.


Joan Wolf
wolf_photoJoan Wolf received her Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Chicago and is currently Associate Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies Texas A&M University.  Her research focuses on the construction of “expert” discourses and how they are transmitted to the public.  She is the author of Harnessing the Holocaust: The Politics of Memory in France (Stanford University Press 2004) and most recently Is Breast Best? Taking on the Breastfeeding Experts and the New High Stakes of Motherhood (New York University Press 2011), in which she argues that the questions infant-feeding scientists ask, the strategies they use to answer them, and the ensuing discussion of results among scientists and between scientists and the public are all shaped by a cultural preoccupation with risk, particularly health risks, and an increasingly comprehensive understanding of what mothers can and should provide their children.  She also demonstrates how public health campaigns and advocacy groups have relied on flawed infant-feeding research, an ethic of “total motherhood,” and widespread popular misunderstanding of risk to exaggerate health risks associated with using infant formula.  Her current research examines how routines in social science research converge with ideas about risk and total motherhood in academic and popular debates about childcare and child development. In 2013, she will be Visiting Fellow at the Center for Parenting Culture Studies in the School of Social Policy, Sociology, and Social Research, University of Kent.