Yesterday (5/3/12), the Strauch Auditorium in the Armstrong Building was abuzz with grand ideas. The Provost’s Lecture Series presented a panel discussion on the theme of “Innovation”. And the swirl of ideas translated into a glorious introspective glimpse into the nature of how ideas become reality.


Our guest panel was comprised of Lisa Cooper, Professor of Medicine and Director, Johns Hopkins Center to Eliminate Cardiovascular Health Disparities, Lisa Feigenson, Associate Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, Jerry Krill, Assistant Director for Science and Technology, Applied Physics Laboratory and moderator/panelist Charles Limb, Associate Professor of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery and Faculty, Peabody Conservatory. After Lloyd Minor, Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic affairs for JHU, gave a short introduction on the foundation for the discussion the audience was---intellectually---off and running. Charles Limb asked the panel “What do you view as Innovation?” Dr. Cooper said it’s “new lenses that offer a wider views to a particular problem”. Lisa Feigenson ventured a hypothesis that pronounced “innovation is a combination of technology and methodology that combines finding the mysteries in everyday behavior”. Jerry Krill, with a little less abstraction offered “innovation is not just a great idea, it’s the implemention of that idea. Without the implementation, the idea never takes flight”.


Here’s a small sample of the questions that were raised: what is the relationship between individual creativity and institutional innovation? Are creative people innovative? What is insight, and how does insight differ from creativity? Dr. Cooper mentioned that the medical community has too wide a chasm between themselves and their environment, the short-sighted scientist cannot operate in a vacuum and has to offer some engagement on a larger platform. Reflections were offered regarding science and medicine needing to build better bridges to art and the humanities. Each panelist was asked about a specific recollection to a creative moment, and the confessional nature of those moments were dazzling to behold. The audience was quite captured by the inside peek into the birth of an idea. More often than not, each panelist’s moment came from some small instance, some tiny doubt or question, even from a brief break in a daily routine. Lloyd Minor noticed a distinct rapid eye movement that came when a patient heard a particular noise or sound. This led to Superior canal dehiscence syndrome (SCDS), first described (discovered!) by Dr. Minor. But, as Charles Limb asked, “what caused that first moment?” So many procedures in the field of Otolaryngology had already been performed, documented and accepted. What was the the origin of this innovation? It was a question directed to everyone in the audience, since on some level, we’re all participants.


Such was the terrain of an enlightened discussion, one you rarely hear around the quad.  Speaking with Charles Limb afterwards he commented that “medicine is so far behind in bringing art and science into the same room.” Certainly, symposiums such as these show how imagination runs parallel to the hard sciences, and also how the intimacy behind the creative process can lead to conversations that intersect all disciplines.   




Left to Right: Lisa Feigenson, Dr. Lloyd Minor, Dr. Lisa Cooper, 

Charles Limb and Jerry Krill) 


Alonzo LaMont


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