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Newton doctor mentors surgeons in Nigeria

Fourteen-year-old pianist George Li will join his hometown Lexington Symphony for two performances next weekend, including a children’s workshop at 2 p.m. Sunday. Fourteen-year-old pianist George Li will join his hometown Lexington Symphony for two performances next weekend, including a children’s workshop at 2 p.m. Sunday.
By Cindy Cantrell
January 31, 2010

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FOR WOMEN’S HEALTH: As director of minimally invasive gynecological surgery at Newton-Wellesley Hospital, Dr. Keith Isaacson has led medical teaching trips in recent years to Israel, Sicily, Brazil, and Mexico. Last month the Newton resident traveled to Lagos, Nigeria, where he trained a dozen surgeons in hysteroscopy, a minimally invasive procedure to treat uterine polyps, fibroids, and endometrial cancer.

According to Isaacson, 70 percent of women in some regions of Africa suffer from genetic fibroids, which can cause heavy bleeding and significant pain. With a hysteroscopy, he said, patients can go home the same day the procedure is performed.

Isaacson said he hopes to return to Lagos to mentor surgeons in the operating room when more equipment is available, perhaps as early as next year.

His colleagues in Nigeria “were very enthusiastic because it’s not a difficult technique to teach and the benefits to patients are so obvious,’’ said Isaacson, who is also an associate professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive biology at Harvard Medical School. “We do these training courses several times a year here. The difference is that in the US, we’re fortunate to already have the equipment so patients can get the help they need right away.’’

BLACK HISTORY MONTH: Since he began writing about food and reviewing restaurants in the 1970s, journalist Mark Zanger of Boston has amassed a collection of historical cookbooks. While researching food history, however, he discovered a multitude of stories behind the recipes.

Zanger will discuss several findings in his presentation, “Early American Cookbook Authors and Slavery: Direct and Indirect Traces of African-American Cooking,’’ 7:30 p.m. tomorrow at the Newton Free Library.

Zanger, who wrote “The American Ethnic Cookbook for Students’’ and “The American History Cookbook,’’ will show examples of cookbooks written by black and white abolitionists, cookbooks intended to raise money for injured soldiers and war relief, and favorite recipes of Henry Ward Beecher, Emily Dickinson, and Susan B. Anthony.

He will also discuss Tunis G. Campbell, an abolitionist who wrote a cookbook and dining room management manual while working as a head waiter in a Boston hotel in 1848. Later, Tunis became one of the first African-Americans elected to the state Senate in Georgia.

Zanger is planning to make Campbell’s recipe for cornbread - which includes cornmeal, eggs, butter, milk, molasses, and saleratus - to share with the audience.

“That way,’’ he said, “people can enjoy their own little piece of history.’’

For more information, call the Newton Free Library at 617-796-1360, or go online to

SECRETS REVEALED: In 1915, archaeologist George Andrew Reisner led the excavation of an Egyptian burial chamber by a team from Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts and Harvard University. Tomorrow at 7:30 p.m., museum adjunct lecturer Mimi Braverman will offer a virtual tour of the site through a slide presentation at the Waltham Public Library.

The burial chamber at Deir el-Bersha in Middle Egypt, known as Tomb 10A, dates to 2000 BC. It contained the mummified bodies of a powerful local official, Djehutynakht, and his wife (also called Djehutynakht), as well as hundreds of objects that the Egyptians believed they would need in the afterlife.

Although an earthquake and grave robbers had caused severe damage to the tomb, objects that were overlooked or restored include two intricately painted cedar coffins, a fleet of 58 model boats providing symbolic transportation, a miniature army for protection, and jars of food.

“The exhibit is a tribute to the original expedition in 1915,’’ Braverman said, “and it also pays tribute to the extraordinary work to restore these objects.’’

Braverman’s lecture complements “The Secrets of Tomb 10A: Egypt 2000 BC,’’ an exhibition on display at the Museum of Fine Arts through May 16. The exhibition is free with museum admission. For more information, go to

SOUND OF MUSIC: Fourteen-year-old virtuoso pianist George Li of Lexington has traveled to more countries than many adults, having already performed in Venezuela, China, and Sweden. Invitations to perform in Sweden and Italy this May are the result of videos posted by his father on

“Most of them are from concerts, but some show me playing at my house,’’ said Li, who has also performed at Carnegie Hall and on “The Martha Stewart Show.’’

“I like being on YouTube. I get a lot of feedback,’’ he said. “A lot of people say good things, but if they have criticism, I work to correct it.’’

Local audiences can see Li perform next weekend when he takes the stage at Cary Hall in Lexington for two concerts with the Lexington Symphony. Led by conductor Jonathan McPhee, the concert Saturday at 8 p.m. will include Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21 in C major, David Diamond’s “Rounds for Strings,’’ and Aaron Copland’s “Appalachian Spring.’’ Li will also take part in the orchestra’s biennial children’s workshop and concert starting at 2 p.m. Sunday.

For more information, visit

People items may be sent to Cindy Cantrell at

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