University of Vermont

Winning Essay by Class of 2014’s Liebowitz in Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society’s “The Pharos”

Daniel Liebowitz and Frederick C. Morin III, M.D.
Class of 2014 student Daniel Liebowitz (shown here shaking hands with UVM College of Medicine Dean Frederick C. Morin III, M.D., at the 2011 White Coat Ceremony), was named runner-up in the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society's Helen H. Glaser Student Essay Award competition. (Photo: Raj Chawla/UVM Medical Photography)

An essay written by second-year University of Vermont College of Medicine student Daniel Liebowitz is currently featured in the Winter 2012 issue of The Pharos, the journal of the Alpha Omega Alpha (AOA) Honor Medical Society. Liebowitz was named a runner up for the AOA’s Helen H. Glaser Student Essay Award for 2011.

Founded in 1902, AOA is the national medical honor society and supports many programs for medical students and physicians at its 120 chapters. The Society's quarterly journal The Pharos contains articles on nontechnical medical subjects, including history, ethics, national issues, personal essays, and poetry. The Helen H. Glaser Student Essay Awards competition is designed to encourage medical students to write creative narratives or scholarly essays relevant to medicine.

According to Liebowitz, his essay, titled “Carlos Finlay, Walter Reed and the Politics of Imperialism in Early Tropical Medicine,” outlines the research that led to the discovery of the link between yellow fever and mosquitoes in Cuba and the United States in the late 19th and early 20th century. The piece also covers how this discovery led to the subsequent eradication of the disease from Cuba and the U.S.

“Scientific research during that period was closely entwined with the political will of the two nations – one fighting for independence from a colonial power and the other exerting its own imperial aspirations,” explains Liebowitz. “Nationalist spirits were strong through much of the world at the turn-of-the-century era, and the drama that ensued in regards to this breakthrough discovery in yellow fever and the public health success that followed is a prime example of the clash between politics and scientific research.”

A native of Avon, Conn., Liebowitz graduated from Vassar College in 2010 with a major in history and a minor in chemistry. While his clinical interests include internal medicine and infectious disease, he continues to enjoy exploring medical history, which, he says, “helps me understand how the profession has progressed to its modern manifestation.”