The Institute for Spirituality and Health
Exploring the connections between spirituality and health.

World Religions & Health Series



According to the Pew Research Center, more than four fifths of people in the world are aligned with some tradition.  Through both their explicit teachings and their cultural traditions, religious frameworks shape society and how people make decisions.  When it comes to health and healing, questions as broad as “Why would this happen to ME?” or as specific as “Is this kosher?” are often answered or guided by faith traditions.  Patients of different faiths have particular needs for caregiver relationship, nutrition and medication, end-of-life choices, and family involvement, as well as distinct worldviews of what it means to be healthy. 

With this series, ISH aims to explore how people consider health, and what they expect of medical care, historically and currently, through the lens of these five major world religions.  We feel education in this topic is essential, particularly in Houston, one of the most ethnically and spiritually diverse metropolitan areas in the U.S. and home to largest medical center in the world.

Cosponsored by the Rice University Boniuk Institute for Religious Tolerance:

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Date: Wednesday Evenings, September 26th - October 24th, 2018
Time: 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Location: Institute for Spirituality & Health
                 8100 Greenbriar Dr. Ste 300
                 Houston, Texas 77054

Price: $95 Series Pass
            $25 Single Session
            Includes catered dinner

September 26: Islam - Dr. Basem Hamid, MD

October 3Buddhism - Roshi Gaelyn Godwin

October 10Judaism - Dr. Sheldon Rubenfeld, MD

October 17Christianity - Rev. Dr. John K. Graham, MD

October 24Hinduism - Dr. Venugopal Menon, MD

*5.0 CEU for LPC, LMFT, LMSW


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Dr. Basem Hamid, MD is a graduate of Damascus University- Syria with dual degrees in medicine and Islamic law.  He moved to the Unites States in 1996 and completed his training and board certification in Internal Medicine, Neurology and Pain Medicine.  He is a former professor and the University of Iowa as well as MD Anderson Cancer Center. He is currently in private practice in the SE Houston area. He is also the president and imam of shadow-creek Muslim Community Center in Pearland. He has spoken globally on different health and religious topics and has numerous publications.    

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Roshi Gaelyn Godwin is the Abbot and Director of Houston Zen Center, a Zen Buddhist temple in the Historic Heights. She was ordained as a Zen priest 26 years ago and trained at Zen monasteries in the States and in Japan for 18 years. Before moving to Houston she was the Director of the largest Zen monastery in the West, Tassajara Zen Mountain Center in California. She began to visit the Houston Zen Community in 1997 and moved to Houston in 2003 to help establish the new Center in the Heights. The Zen Center has grown and, in 2007, relocated to a larger location in the Heights. She is a past president of the Soto Zen Buddhist Association (America), and a member of the international Association of Soto Zen Buddhism (Japan).

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Dr. Sheldon Rubenfeld, M.D., F.A.C.P., F.A.C.E. is Clinical Professor of Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. He was in the private practice of endocrinology and internal medicine for 36 years until he retired in 2014. For the past 20 years Dr. Rubenfeld has studied Jewish medical ethics each Wednesday morning with a small, dedicated group led by Rabbi Yossi Grossman. Dr. Rubenfeld taught Jewish Medical Ethics and continues to teach Healing by Killing: Medicine in the Third Reich at Baylor. In 2010 he founded the Center for Medicine after the Holocaust or CMATH. Dr. Rubenfeld published Medicine After the Holocaust: From the Master Race to the Human Genome and Beyond in 2010 and Human Subjects Research after the Holocaust in 2014.

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Rev. Dr. John K. Graham, MD is President and C.E.O. of the Institute Dr. John K. Graham is both a physician and a priest. He received his M.D. Degree from Tulane Medical School in New Orleans and is board-certified in two medical specialties – otolaryngology and plastic & reconstructive surgery. John was in the private practice of medicine in Shreveport, LA for twenty years and was founder of the Plastic Surgery Center there. He received national media exposure in 1977 when he used his microsurgery training to successfully replant the totally amputated arm of a 4 year old boy. In 1990, John left the practice of medicine and responded to God’s call to the priesthood. He attended Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, CA and received his Master of Divinity degree from the Episcopal Theological Seminary of the Southwest in Austin. In 2001 he received a Doctor of Ministry degree from Seabury-Western Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois.  Following ordination to the priesthood, John served at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Austin, TX, at Trinity Episcopal Church in Houston and, for twelve years (1998-2010), as Sr. Associate Rector at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston. On March 17, 2010, John was elected President and C.E.O. of the Institute for Spirituality and Health at the Texas Medical Center. 

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Dr. Venugopal Menon, MD was born in Kerala, pre-independent India. After earning his medical degree and serving the Indian army he spent a year in Scotland before arriving in America. Certified as a Fellow by the American specialty boards in Pediatrics, Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, he was inducted as a Fellow of the prestigious Royal Society of Medicine, London. He practiced as a successful Allergist, an associate owner of the McGovern Allergy Clinic, serving as its president for eight years. He was on the editorial committee of the Annals of Allergy & Immunology, a founding member and director of India Culture Center, Indian Doctors Association, Kerala Cultural Association, and IACF. Associated with Sri Meenakshi Temple Society from its inception, he served as its Chairman and Advisory Council Chair.  Dr. Menon is on the Advisory Board of the Hindus of Greater Houston and a Director of the ISH.  His recently published memoirs My Mother Called Me UNNI – A Doctor’s Tale Of Migration, is acclaimed as “A fascinating and admirable history…for readers to learn from, enjoy, and remember.”