SMHS Reunion Weekend Goes Virtual

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A cutting board with onion and cilantro resting on it, next to a stove

For the first time, the George Washington University (GW) School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) Reunion Weekend went fully virtual, with more than 330 attendees tuning in to lectures and events from the comfort of their own homes across the country.

Alumni representing the SMHS MD classes of 1970, 1975, 1980, 1985, 1990, 1995, 2000, 2010, and 2015, and H Street Society members were invited to participate in a number of activities and events taking place in the digital space.

Kicking off the virtual activities was Health meets Food, a hands-on culinary medicine session in which participants cooked in their own kitchens. The alumni were guided by chefs and SMHS faculty, and collaborated with each other through team-based case study the discussion. The event gave alumni a look at the curriculum brought to GW by Timothy S. Harlan, MD, executive director of the GW Culinary Medicine Program and associate professor of medicine at SMHS, and a team for medical students and members of the Washington, D.C. community.

Since the start of the pandemic, the Culinary Medicine Program has successfully pivoted in the curriculum’s delivery to accommodate for virtual instruction, delivering the course to two GW medical student cohorts in April and three cohorts in the community program, including one through their Spanish language programming.

“Now that [we have] been able to take a deep breath after adapting the courseware and helping our colleagues across the country understand how to deploy culinary medicine programming in the virtual space,” Harlan said, “we are turning back to our original mission coming to GW, which is to continue to expand the research footprint and document the outcomes.”

Participants signed up for different taco recipes that they would prepare together in small groups and were provided the shopping lists and cooking instructions ahead of time.

Before breaking off into their groups and getting started, Kerri Dotson, RDN, LDN, director of operations and executive chef for the GW Culinary Medicine Program, walked alumni through a brief tutorial to sharpen their knife skills and shared recipe tips and tricks.

The groups set to work preparing their respective dishes with the guidance of Harlan, Dotson, and additional faculty members. The teams also worked together on a case study on culinary medicine and the Mediterranean diet, based on a video lecture provided ahead of the event. At the end of the cooking session, the participants returned to the main meeting room, tacos in tow, to discuss the cooking process and the case study.

While this year’s Reunion Weekend looked different, alumni who took advantage of the unique experience left with new-found culinary and nutrition skills, as well as recipes to share with their families and friends.

Read more about Reunion 2020 activities.


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