OUWB professors present at international conference in India

Bridget Janis, Features Editor

Two Oakland University professors were invited to speak at the sixth annual National Conference of the Association of Physiologists in India. The two professors, Suzan ElSayed and Thomas Ferrari from the Department of Foundational Medical Studies, traveled to India for the conference from Sept. 11-14 in Mysuru, a city in southern India.

The two professors were invited to travel to India from a previous encounter from the conference’s organizing secretary that visited OU’s department in a previous year. ElSayed and Ferrari were the only two international professors in attendance. 

“I felt honored, and it was also an example of always keeping one’s doors open to the other,” Ferrari said. “We had a woman contact us who was just interested in visiting OUWB and meeting with the physiologists in our department because she was a physiologist and then it ended up she was the organizing secretary for this meeting and invited us to come.”

The partnership gave lectures at the event, and their topic was the “Physiology of Virtue.” Ferrari focused his section on forgiveness and how it can cause a relief for people and their bodies. He chose this topic because it is one of the primary things he studies with his medical students. 

“I specifically worked on the physiology of forgiveness and self-forgiveness,” Ferrari said. “In a nutshell, if we’re angry about something or we feel like we’ve been victimized or had a transgression happen to us we kind of hold some anger and some resentment and recrimination and that’s actually what we know now, from studies, is toxic to the heart. It actually is problematic for the heart and the cardiovascular system and forgiveness it one of the antidotes.”

ElSayed’s presentation focused on the physiology of fasting. Due to her first hand experience with it, she was able to spread her knowledge with others. 

“I talked about the physical changes, I also talked about the spiritual changes during Ramadan fasting,” ElSayed said. “Like the worshiper during Ramadan they can develop their character, they have developed compassion, adaptability, clarity of mind, a healthy lifestyle and self reflection.”

Ferrari and ElSayed hoped there was some light shed on the fact that the United States is interested in values the study of the mind and body. The popularity of meditation and mindfulness has become a huge trend in the U.S. and is getting more attention compared to past years.

“Just in terms of international kind of exchange and cooperation, it’s [international exchange] important,” Ferrari said. “It’s good to find out what kind of science is happening in other parts of the world because just like on our own campus, it’s easy to get side-loaded, it’s easy to be well uninvolved with my departments — but I don’t know as much about what’s going on in other departments. Or even as a university, we all know what’s going on at OU, but do we know a lot about what’s going on at Wayne State or University of Michigan?” 

Throughout their trip, Ferrari and ElSayed felt welcomed and felt they gained insight into other types of physiology. They hoped to have had an impact on the people that attended their lectures.

“They were great regarding hospitality and welcoming, and they gave us the sensation that we are really welcomed,” ElSayed said.