David Agus '83 Skypes with 9th Grade Honors Biology Students
By B. Rosen
The 9th grade Honors Biology class had the great pleasure last week of skyping with Akiba graduate, Class of 1983, and USC professor of medicine, David Agus. The students are reading and critiquing his newly released book, The End of Illness. “Students are using the information from the book and from the conversation with Dr. Agus to develop their own personal health care plan,” explains Rhonda August, Head of Barrack’s Science Department and Honors Biology teacher.
David began his conversation with the students by emphasizing the relationship between DNA and proteomics in the understanding of health. He then gave many examples and insights into how health of the individual and a community can be improved. The discussion included the use of vitamins vs. food, establishing a delay for disease, the importance of moving throughout the day and understanding the cultural problems of a community in prescribing medical solutions. Dr. Agus emphasized his work in tikkun olam aimed at improving health at both the national and international level, including his work with AIDS in Africa with the Gates Foundation.
Dr. Agus emphasized three major points for the students to manage their personal health. One was to have a regularity of schedule which has been shown to improve one’s performance. Secondly, he stressed the importance of knowing your metrics which includes your basic parameters of your body. And finally, he emphasized the importance of questioning everything. For example, if you are taking a vitamin, you should know why and what evidence supports that directive. You must have the data.
“David spoke fondly of his Akiba education,” reports Mrs. August who taught David Agus at Akiba. He told the students, “What Akiba did so well for me was teach me how to think broadly and how to take problems on …We learn as we go. The combination of Jewish studies, science, history and English all contributed to the ability to think.” He advised the students to be entrepreneurial as they approached careers and offered to help students who were pursuing careers in science in California. Dr. Agus also thanked Mrs. August for inspiring him to pursue a career in science.