“Time is a precious commodity, no question about that. But there are few better ways to spend it than by preparing high quality food for yourself and those you love.”
Mark Bittman, How to Cook Everything
On Friday, January 27, 2017, my wife and I hosted a reception for ninety eight guests as part of the University of Hawaii Cancer Center’s eighth annual Weinman Symposium. I love to cook, so I prepared five courses of freshly made food for everyone with the help of my wife, and a good friend who shopped and prepped everything before the party [PDF]. Our guests were two Nobel Prize winners, Cancer Center faculty and administration, Friends of the Cancer Center, our sponsors Barry and Virginia Weinman, and several representatives from the Hawaii State Government, all of whom embodied the true spirit of aloha in Honolulu. Grammy nominated slack key guitarist Makana was also there, ending the evening with the beauty of his music.
The purpose of the Weinman Symposium is to bring the world’s top medical researchers to the UH Cancer Center in order to share their research and meet with our Cancer Center’s scientists. Hawaii’s jewel of a cancer center is far away from many places geographically, but the Weinman Symposium helps keep it close to developments in science and medicine. This year, we were honored by the presence of Randy Schekman, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology in 2013, and Bruce Beutler, the Nobel Prize recipient in 2011.
The Symposium is a series of lectures and presentations that are open to the public and to all of the faculty at the University of Hawaii. The lectures on January 26th and 27th encourage all of us to stay up to date with the latest trends in the research on the gene-environment interactions associated with lung cancers.
While the Symposium’s academic lectures and exchange of scientific ideas in the formal setting of the Cancer Center are important, I also feel that it’s critical to provide an opportunity for our Cancer Center faculty, UH administration, and Hawaii government leaders to interact on a less formal basis. I’ve hosted a Weinman Symposium reception at our home for the last several years in order to celebrate the spirit of community that ties us all together, and encourage the exchange of ideas across all spectrums.
Barry and Virginia Weinman have generously sponsored the Weinman Symposium as they have always encouraged innovative programs. Like me, they believe in the magic of putting diverse people together in comfortable settings, knowing that ideas flow from the conversations between those who sincerely want to share their thoughts and experiences.
Every single person participating in the reception—all 98 of them—helped contribute to the success of the Weinmann Symposium. All brought a spirit of positive energy and enthusiasm that helped create an environment of intellectual curiosity.
Some people think that a party is just a moment of frivolity. However, when people are given the opportunity to relax and enjoy their time together, good things happen. For example, as I was making the pasta with ricotta and zucchini, Dr. James Chen, a member of the National Academy of Sciences from UT Southwestern, and I came up with a new idea on how asbestos may regulate natural immunity, which is the determinant in whether you develop cancer or not when exposed to it.
We planned the experiments while I cooked, and he will come to the Cancer Center for a couple of weeks to work in our lab as soon as we develop the first set of preliminary data. If it works, it will be really important. We may not have had these ideas if we hadn’t been in the fun setting of a party where we were surrounded by people of goodwill.