First biomedical humanities lecture focuses on ‘life of faith, inquiry’

Campbell University’s Biomedical Humanities program hosted its first annual Biomedical Humanities Lecture Series, sponsored by the Staley Foundation, on Sept. 26. The inaugural lecture was given by Dr. Mark Hammond entitled: “A Life of Faith and a Life of Inquiry: Biomedical Humanities to the Rescue.”

Nearly 200 students and faculty from across the university gathered in Butler Chapel to hear Dr. Hammond, the former vice president for academic affairs and provost and current faculty member for the Jerry M. Wallace School of Osteopathic Medicine. Hammond described his journey as someone who has dedicated his life to science — in particular, genetics, but also a lifelong interest in electronics and engineering —while also seeing this commitment as fully compatible with a life of faith.

Hammond’s lecture touched on the broader questions of human meaning explored by the humanities.

“One of [Campbell University’s mission] statements that resonates the most with me is the proclamation that the institution doesn’t see a conflict between a life of faith and a life of inquiry,” Hammond said. “Both are welcome. Faith and science. We can, under the auspices of existing as an academic institution and not a church, wrestle with the bigger, harder questions in life and about life without having to be someone other than what God has made us.”

Hammond also spoke about how some disciplines speak to “how” and “what” questions, while others speak to “why” and “should” questions — and that a comprehensive approach to understanding where we are and where we are going requires both approaches.

Hammond earned his doctorate in biology from the University in South Carolina in 1990, specializing in molecular genetics and biochemistry. His doctoral work led to publications in The Journal of Biological Chemistry and Genes and Development. Hammond joined Campbell’s faculty in 1992 as a professor in biology, was chair of the Department of Biological Sciences in 1996, and served as Provost of the University from 2013 until 2023. Hammond is currently Professor of Biochemistry and Genetics at the Jerry M. Wallace School of Osteopathic Medicine, as well as Associate Dean for Strategic Initiatives and Innovation.

Going forward, the Biomedical Humanities Lecture Series will bring in prominent bioethicists, public health experts, philosophers, and theologians to address questions about humanity, morality and ultimate value, as those topics intersect with the biomedical sciences.

“The lecture series is an exciting opportunity for Campbell students to engage with these topics,” said Dr. Ryan Newson, director of the Biomedical Humanities program. “It also allows Campbell to participate in conversations around the health humanities that are already happening in our state and neighboring universities.”