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When: Tuesday, April 18th, 2017  

Where: AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center, Grand Ballroom

1900 University Ave, Austin, TX 78705
The Grand Ballroom is on Level M3

Who: James O'Connell, M.D. engages in a talk-show style interview with Rebecca McInroy, Producer and Host at KUT, Austin's NPR

Time: 6:30pm - 7:30pm 

 Screen Shot PPT James OConnell

 Stories from the Shadows: Reflections of a Street Doctor, by James O'Connell, MD

The biennial Joe Thorne Gilbert Lecture Series brings outstanding, community-focused individuals in the field of medicine to discuss great ideas and vital issues current in the health professions. This distinguished event honors the legacy of Dr. Gilbert, a physician whose kindness and expertise healed many people in the Austin community. This year The Health Professions Office presents James O'Connell, MD, President of Boston's Health Care for the Homless Program.

Dr. James O’Connell represents the legacy of Dr. Joe Thorne Gilbert and is exactly what we hope our pre-health professions students at UT Austin strive to represent. He is paving the path of providing healthcare to the homeless through his 30+ years of doctoring in the streets. Many media outlets including CBS and NPR have featured his story. Dr O’Connell represents what it means to be an altruistic, humanitarian health care provider. We guarantee he’ll inspire you in this talk-show style lecture and you’ll remember why you’re working as hard as you are to ace your upcoming exam.

James O'Connell, MD, Bio: 

Dr. O’Connell graduated summa cum laude from the University of Notre Dame in 1970 and received his master’s degree in theology from Cambridge University in 1972. After graduating from Harvard Medical School in 1982, he completed a residency in Internal Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital. In 1985, Dr. O'Connell began fulltime clinical work with homeless individuals as the founding physician of the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program, which now serves over 12,000 homeless persons each year in two hospital-based clinics (Boston Medical Center and MGH) and in more than 60 shelters and outreach sites in Boston. With his colleagues, Dr. O’Connell established the nation’s first medical respite program for homeless persons in 1985, with 25 beds nested within the Lemuel Shattuck Shelter. This innovative program now provides acute and sub-acute, pre- and post-operative, and palliative and end-of-life care in BHCHP’s 104-bed Barbara McInnis House.

Working with the MGH Laboratory of Computer Science, Dr. O’Connell designed and implemented the nation’s first computerized medical record for a homeless program in 1995. From 1989 until 1996, Dr. O'Connell served as the National Program Director of the Homeless Families Program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Dr. O’Connell is the editor of The Health Care of Homeless Persons: A Manual of Communicable Diseases and Common Problems in Shelters and on the Streets. His articles have appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine, the Journal of the American Medical Association, Circulation, the American Journal of Public Health, the Journal of Clinical Ethics, and several other medical journals.

Dr. O’Connell has been featured on ABC’s Nightline and in a feature-length documentary entitled “Give Me a Shot of Anything.” His first book, Stories from the Shadows: Reflections of a Street Doctor, was published in 2015 and featured on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross. He has received numerous awards, including the Albert Schweitzer Humanitarian Award in 2012 and The Trustees’ Medal at the bicentennial celebration of MGH in 2011. Dr. O’Connell is president of BHCHP and an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

Patient Stories

Check him out on CBS Evening news!

Check him out on NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross! 

Directions to AT&T Conference Center Grand Ballroom

1900 University Ave, Austin, TX 78705
The Grand Ballroom is on Level M3.

Map of AT&T Conference Center floor plan.

Directions to AT&T Conference Center. 

Parking: Self Parking fees at AT&T Conference Center and nearby parking garages apply:
The nearest major UT parking garage is the Brazos Garage on 210 E Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Austin, TX 78712

Bus Stops: There are many nearby bus stops:
- 21st/Whitis
- Guadalupe/21st
- 2231 Guadalupe/West Mall UT
- Speedway/21st
- 1801 Congress/18th
- 311 Martin Luther King/ San Jacinto

The lecture series, created to honor Dr. Gilbert, brings outstanding individuals in the field of medicine to discuss great ideas and vital issues current in the health professions.

Previous Joe Thorne Gilbert Lecture Series Speakers:

  • Charles Fraser, M.D.
  • Ben Carson, M.D.
  • Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D.
  • Mark W. Kline, M.D.
  • Dot Richardson, M.D.
  • Atul Gawande, M.D.
  • Laurance B. McCullough, M.D.
  • Patch Adams, M.D.
  • Denton Cooley
  • Oliver Sacks
  • James “Red” Duke
  • C. Everett Koop
  • Abraham Verghese
  • Nancy Dickey

Joe Thorne Gilbert


Dr. Joe Thorne Gilbert was born August 7, 1905 in Austin.  Dr. Gilbert received his B.A. from the University of Texas and earned his M.D. from The University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in 1929. Soon after the United States entered World War II, Joe Thorne volunteered his services as a surgeon to the Army Medical Corps.

Dr. Gilbert was deeply engaged with his home city of Austin, serving in a leadership capacity for several community organizations. In journal editorials and public speeches he urged his physician colleagues to engage in community and political service.

In an article he wrote in the International Surgical Digest he encouraged “The nurturing qualities that help fight disease: compassion, understanding and support.” The Joe Thorne Gilbert Lectureship is evidence that he lived these words. It represents donations from so many grateful patients and respectful colleagues who appreciated his quick and skillful hands, kindly bedside demeanor and wit.

Dr. Gilbert served his patients for 56 years from 1929 until Parkinson’s disease forced his retirement in 1985. As illness withered his body and finally immobilized him, Joe never complained of his condition, and his humanity and fine sense of humor remained part of him until his death in 1989.