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MEDiversity Lecture: Dr. Lori Arviso Alvord

November 1, 2021 @ 12:00 pm 1:00 pm MDT

Lori Arviso Alvord, MD

Lori Arviso Alvord, MD


Dr. Lori Arviso Alvord, MD is an author and surgeon, and the first member of the Navajo tribe to be board-certified in surgery. Her bestselling memoir, The Scalpel and the Silver Bear (Bantam, 1999), tells the story of her journey from the reservation to the operating room and of her work to combine Navajo philosophies of healing with western medicine. She currently holds an appointment as Associate Faculty at the Center for American Indian Health, at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD.  She is Chief of Staff at Astria Toppenish Hospital in Toppenish, WA. In 2012, Dr. Alvord served as a founding senior officer and associate dean for a new medical school at Central Michigan University College of Medicine. In 2013, the National Congress of American Indians and the National Indian Health Board nominated her for the position of Surgeon General of the United States, jointly. In 2016, Dr. Alvord was named an Arthur Vining Davis Scholar. In December 2018, the Stanford University School of Medicine Alumni Association awarded Dr. Alvord the J.E. Wallace Sterling Lifetime Achievement Award.

 Dr. Alvord earned her undergraduate degree from Dartmouth College in 1979, received her doctorate of medicine (MD) at Stanford University School of Medicine in 1985, and completed her residency in general surgery at Stanford University Hospital. She served as associate dean, student affairs and admissions, at Dartmouth Medical School (1997-2009), Central Michigan College of Medicine (2010-2012), and the University of Arizona College of Medicine, Tucson (2012-2014). She served as a member of the National Advisory Council of the NIH Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine from 2008-2010, and she has been a member of many NIH study sections. Her research has focused on surgical outcomes and health disparities in Native American populations. Additional areas of scholarship include Native American health and ceremonies, and the creation of healing environments. Alvord has been awarded honorary degrees from Albany Medical College, Drexel University College of Medicine, and Pine Manor College, and has been the commencement speaker at six medical schools in the United States. She is featured in the National Library of Medicine exhibit, “Changing the Face of Medicine,” honoring pioneering women physicians over the past 150 years, and the PBS feature documentary “Medicine Woman,” (2016).

“Ceremonies work at multiple levels, but primarily they heal the mind, which helps to heal the body. Chant, song, prayer, and guided imagery are used, in an elaborate form of mind-body medicine. Subsistence living and environmental sustainability principles are also found in ceremony teachings, and are examples of how interconnection can promote sustainability theory and teach humans a way of living that honors and protects our natural world.”

– Lori Arviso Alvord
MEDiversity Week, Intersectionality in Health Education and Care

MEDiversity Week


This event is part of MEDiversity Week.

The mission of MEDiversity Week is to highlight the equity, diversity, and inclusion work within U Health; while addressing health care disparities and offering solutions for the training of our current and future providers. The week’s events will focus on intersectionality in health education and care and facilitate discussions on how to continually advocate for equity and inclusion in our daily personal and professional lives.

Organizers & Partners

School of Medicine Office of Health Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

View Organizer Website

MEDiversity Week Committee

View Organizer Website