Distinguished speakers inspire the next generation and encourage professionals to push the boundaries of medicine and science—and that’s exactly what Dr. Maratos-Flier and Dr. Flier have set out to do. Established by a generous gift from the couple, the Jeffrey S. Flier and Eleftheria Maratos-Flier Lectureships in Metabolic Disease will take place annually to bring together trainees, physicians, and world-renowned thought leaders.
As physician–scientists in the area of diabetes and metabolism, each exceptionally accomplished in their own right, Dr. Maratos-Flier and Dr. Flier know personally how meaningful it is for faculty and trainees to learn from leading experts in the field. “It was incredibly important to us that our gift encourage and educate the next generation,” says Dr. Maratos-Flier, who is Director of Translational Medicine at Alnylam; a physician at BIDMC; and Professor of Medicine, Emerita at Harvard Medical School. “We have experienced firsthand how lectures can facilitate important discourse and enable networking and research collaborations.”
The new lectureships will take place annually at both BIDMC’s medical grand rounds and endocrine grand rounds, with content designed for both a general physician audience, as well as specialized diabetes- and endocrinology-focused researchers and clinicians. For example, topics will range from diabetes and obesity research to how metabolism relates to cancer. “We have both dedicated much of our careers to education and mentorship. This is truly a core part of our work in academic medicine,” says Dr. Flier, a Harvard University Distinguished Service Professor who formerly held leadership roles at BIDMC from 1978 to 2007, ultimately ascending to be the medical center’s first Chief Academic Officer. “We wanted our gift to benefit the BIDMC community for many years to come. There is not much funding for lectures like this, so philanthropy is essential.” He knows this to be true from firsthand experience—from 2007 to 2016, Dr. Flier served as the 21st Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Harvard University.
Recently, the inaugural lectures funded by this gift were held during medical and endocrine grand rounds, and hundreds of attendees joined via Zoom from across the globe. The series’ inaugural speaker was Ronald Kahn, MD, an internationally recognized expert in diabetes and obesity research who is Head of the Section on Integrative Physiology and Metabolism at Joslin Diabetes Center. “Obesity and diabetes are highly prevalent disorders that have immense effects on public health, and BIDMC faculty have made enormous contributions to this field,” says Dr. Flier. “These lectures will support education and scientific interactions in this area well into the future.”
It’s no surprise that Dr. Maratos-Flier and Dr. Flier felt compelled to give back to BIDMC—an institution they are so deeply connected to—in this powerful way. Together, through the years, they have inspired scientists and physicians from around the world—and also right at home. “We’ve always loved to talk about medicine and research as a family. I think it’s what inspired our oldest daughter to pursue a career in medicine,” says Dr. Maratos-Flier, who completed her residency at BIDMC in 1979. “And our younger daughter proclaimed she would ‘be different’—but in the end, she chose to be a doctor too.”
The couple’s extraordinary legacy will continue, as the gift of education is one that keeps giving. “Drs. Terry and Jeff Flier are longtime members of the BIDMC family,” says Mark Zeidel, MD, Chair of the Department of Medicine. “As highly respected physician-scientists, they have both made invaluable contributions to their field. Their generous support to establish these annual lectureships in metabolic disease will be a true asset to countless faculty and trainees.”