Symposium Gallery 2023


Medicine & the Muse Annual Symposium

Saturday, April 15 | 10AM

In person at LPCH Auditorium | REGISTER

This year, Symposium features keynote, Laurel Braitman, author of What Looks Like Bravery: An epic journey from loss to love. Laurel Braitman PhD is a New York Times bestselling author and the Director of Writing and Storytelling at the Medical Humanities and the Arts Program at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

She received her doctorate in History and Anthropology of Science from MIT and is the director of Writing and Storytelling at the Stanford School of Medicine’s Medical Humanities and the Arts Program where she helps clinical students, staff and physicians communicate more clearly and vulnerably for their own benefit and that of their patients. Laurel is also the founder of Writing Medicine, the global community of writing healthcare professionals. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, The Guardian, Wired, California Sunday, National Geographic, Radiolab, National Public Radio and many other places. She splits her time between rural Alaska, her family’s ranch in Southern California and Northern New Mexico.

Follow Laurel on Instagram | Learn more about Laurel's writing workshops

The theme of this year’s Symposium is "Inside Out, Stories of Radical Bravery"

Download program

Gallery of creative and scholarly work

Melanie Ambler | Visual Art

What Lies Beneath

Melanie Ambler is an aspiring physician-artist-scientist, interested in the integration of the arts into the medical field. She is a classically-trained cellist and founded two live virtual concert series for patients and care providers in both the United States and France. In 2019, she received a Fulbright Fellowship for study and research in the city of Caen, France. She pursued a master's in Neuroscience at the Université de Caen-Normandie, and performed a research study with the Neuroimaging Lab of Human Memory regarding the ability of patients with clinical amnesia to recognize new melodies or paintings. She is currently a musician on call for the nonprofit Project: Music Heals Us and plays weekly one-on-one virtual concerts for critically ill patients.

This piece, What Lies Beneath, explores the underlying anatomy of the masked part of the face--we've gone so long often never seeing a stranger's mouth, so I explored truly what lies beneath the skin in a self portrait.

Isaac Bernstein | Visual Art

From the Retina

Isaac Bernstein is a medical student with a scholarly concentration in clinical research and surgery. 

Jonathan Chen | Magic

Parlor/stage magic act, restoring broken objects as an allegory about restoring patients back to health

Jonathan H Chen MD, PhD is a physician-scientist with professional software development experience and graduate training in computer science. He continues to practice Internal Medicine for the concrete rewards of caring for real people and to inspire his research focused on mining clinical data sources to inform medical decision making.

Chen looks to magic to expand the boundaries of what we perceive to be possible. 

Mira Cheng | Writing


Mira Cheng is a second-year medical student and a self-proclaimed "chameleon" who feels at home on three different continents. In her free time, she loves to dance to reggaeton while cooking, read in bed, and wander aimlessly.

My piece is a poem inspired by SOM patient speakers who have shared deeply personal stories with us throughout the years.

Lauren Joseph | Writing


Lauren Joseph "Lojo" is a fifth year Stanford medical student who will begin residency in orthopaedic surgery at Stanford Hospital this summer. LoJo first joined the MedMuse and storytelling community as a first year medical student her, and she believes that this community, which fostered her passion in writing and storytelling, has shaped the way she will practice medicine and surgery (forever and ever). During medical school, Lauren was able to report on staff for STAT News and ABC News during a year-long research fellowship. 

My piece is a written reflection on writing and journalism in my medical school journey. It explores how curiosity, improvisation, and medical training affected my reporting style, and how crafting these stories changed the way I approached being a doctor. 

Anna Kiesewetter | Writing


Anna Kiesewetter is an undergrad at Stanford studying Human Biology and Creative Writing. An aspiring pediatric psychiatrist and physician-writer, she often explores themes of mental health, womanhood, and cultural identity in her writing. Anna currently works as the student assistant for Medicine and the Muse, and you can also find her staffing the Bridge Peer Counseling Center and playing violin in the Stanford Orchestra. 

As a woman with severe perimenstrual syndrome, I wrote this poem to capture my complicated relationship with menarche and the difficult coming of age it symbolized.

Emi Mathew | Writing

My Transplant Story

Emi Mathew is an undergraduate scientist-activist interested in psychiatric research, mental healthcare equity, and biotech.

My written piece is about how three patients/experiences helped shape my interest in organ transplantation and inspire me through the resilience in their stories.

Vongai Mlambo | Performance, poetry

How to Cross Borders

Vongai Mlambo is a third year medical student from Zimbabwe who experiments with the tradition of storytelling using not so fictional short stories, poetry and spoken word. She performs on a variety of stages, from cozy open nights to conferences and a lot of her work centres on themes of home and belonging.

Nirvikalpa Natarajan | Writing

Le Fort: The Baby Whisperer, This Too Shall Pass

Nirvikalpa Natarajan is a medical student at Stanford Medicine. Previously she practiced as an oral and maxillofacial surgeon in India. She loves the mountains and in the BC era (Before Children) trekked extensively in the Himalayas. She enjoys reading, writing and the outdoors.

Poems about resilience and faith in the universe.

Floriane Ngako-Kameni | Visual Art


Floriane Ngako-Kameni is a medical student with a concentration in biomedical ethics & medical humanities.

This is a visual arts piece of a working collection of portrait narratives of Black women surgeons at Stanford, examining themes of identity, citizenship and culture within the field of surgery. It takes inspiration from the legion of visual works that have come out of prominent civil rights movements, and literary works from the likes of Frederick Douglass to Bell Hooks. 

Ben Teasdale | Writing

Narratives in Medical Aid in Dying Legislation 

Ben Teasdale is a fifth year medical student focusing in health policy and medical humanities. A student of Dr. Laurel Braitman’s, he is interested in how doctors can use narrative nonfiction to better explore, clarify, and communicate ethical issues in medicine.

This piece is intended as an oral presentation. It is an excerpt of a longer narrative non-fiction piece that I am reporting about ethical controversies in medical aid in dying legislation.