Dr. Allen Keller: Caring and Advocating for Torture Survivors
January 26, 2011
Dr. Allen Keller, Founder and Director of the Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture (PSOT), delivered a riveting lecture hosted by the Vilcek Foundation on January 26th at the Bohemian National Hall and Czech Center. In “Caring and Advocating for Torture Survivors,” Dr. Keller explained the crucial role that mental health, medical, legal, and social services play in the treatment of torture survivors from around the world.
Founded in 1995, PSOT takes a comprehensive approach to address the complex and interrelated needs of torture survivors and their families, as they learn to cope with the short- and long-term effects of physical and mental abuse while simultaneously facing the challenges of resettlement in the United States.
Bringing a personal face to the life-sustaining work of Dr. Keller and his colleagues were two participants in the program: Tibetan-born artist Samten Dakpa and Mauritanian-born mathematician Cheikhna Mahawa. Both torture survivors, they spoke about their experiences and about the central role that PSOT has played in their ongoing recovery.
In addition to directing the Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture and the NYU School of Medicine Center for Health and Human Rights, Dr. Allen Keller is Associate Professor of Medicine, New York University School of Medicine.
A graduate of NYU School of Medicine, Dr. Keller completed his residency and chief residency in Primary Care Internal Medicine at Bellevue Hospital/NYU Medical Center. He is a member of the Advisory Board of Physicians for Human Rights and a past member of the American College of Physicians Ethics and Human Rights Committee. When not teaching medical ethics at NYU School of Medicine, Dr. Keller writes, speaks, and consults on issues relating to ethics, health, and human rights, such as the medical and social consequences of land mines in Cambodia, refugee health, and prisoner access to health care; he is also dedicated to documenting the incidence of torture and other human rights abuses worldwide.
Widely honored for his human rights work and care of survivors of torture, Dr. Keller has received the Barbara Chester Award from the Hopi Foundation, the Arthur C. Helton Human Rights Award from the American Immigration Law Association, the Humanism in Medicine Award - the latter which he received twice from graduating medical school classes at NYU - and New York University’s Distinguished Alumnus Award.