On a Man and His Brother

“Monday Musings” for Monday November 10, 2014

Volume IV.  No. 46/200

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Encomium for my brother, Dr. Mohammad Javad Meymandi (born September 21, 1924)

By Assad Meymandi, MD, PhD, DLFAPA*

Recently, I had the pleasure (and honor) of giving a physical examination to my 90 years old brother while he was visiting us in Raleigh. He lives in Malibu, California. His visit gave us the opportunity to celebrate the Tar Heel version of his distinguished 90th natal anniversary. My brother is a remarkable man. He is mentally and physically active. He does not walk. He leaps like a graceful gazelle. He prances. He climbs stairs two or three at a time. He can recite poetry in many languages, argue persuasively in many languages. With passion and purpose, he spreads joy and love to everyone around him. His speech is well-articulated, malismatic with content, coloratura; and syntax ethereal. He is an American-educated scholar and former university administrator. He is an emeritus professor and chancellor. Yet he continues to learn and to study by reading omnivorously and researching constantly. He is a prolific writer. His textbooks in agriculture and plant ecology, and principles of translation continue to be taught at the University of Tehran.

While examining him, in front of me, I saw the most wondrous and complex machine consisting of the brain, a network of 200 billion cells (neurons and glia) and 30 trillion synaptic connections. There diverse and complex neurons that surprise observers at every turn. I found that along with his 2.5 lbs. brain, with all those neurons and synaptic connections, my brother has almost perfect system review with vital signs more similar to a teenager rather than a 90 years old person. And all this wrapped in a beautiful soul and infinitely delicate and sensitive sense of awareness.

A bit of history of neurobiology:

James Watson and Francis Crick discovered Deoxyribonucleic Acid, DNA in 1953.They won the Nobel Prize for Medicine or Physiology in 1962. Soon the genomics project and sequencing of genes and DNA was completed. The discovery of proteomics ensued, and now with the work of brilliant neuroscientists with more advanced instrumentation, we have connectomics. The work of Harvard’s Jeff Lichtman illustrates the dimensions of human connetomes and advances in the science of connectomics. We now know that the so-called mental illness is nothing more than brain dysfunction. Something goes wrong with connections of the complex structures of this mysterious organ called brain. It is called connectopathies. It explains autism, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and most major psychiatric illnesses and problems. In addition, brain structure is not simple like kidney, liver or lung, making it vulnerable to misconnection(s). The diversity and complexity of brain cells are mind boggling.

But the brother I know has been not only my brother but my teacher, my role model, and my mentor since my birth. When I was a little boy, he used to come home from high school and teach me all he had learned that day. His teachings made me excel in College Saint Louis, a Jesuit School, in Tehran with all instruction in French. Also, he has been a rich source for offering spiritual guidance and direction, a true role model. Now with all the other seven siblings gone he and I are the only two left which makes him the patriarch of the family. For his birthday, the family, the extended family, and friends, compiled a book titled “The Star of the Pantheon of the Patriarchs, Dr. Mohammad Javad Meymandi” which was dedicated to him on his birthday on September 21. I am writing this very personal note at the request of many who have met him on his visits to Raleigh. They wish for others to get to know my brother I wrote this in his honor. It should be read in dactylic hexameter like reading Homer…

When I think of my brother, Mohammad Javad Meymandi, I think of Benjamin Franklin, the wise and thoughtful patriot, the oldest of the framers of the Constitution,

whose towering intellect was subdued by his humility;
whose wisdom guided the American literary world;
whose brilliance was to illuminate and not to blind;
whose sense of humanity and humor made him loved by family, friends, colleagues and students,
whose sense of balance and vision brought him charm and appeal;
whose commitment to principles, to the truth, and to the love for/of humanity, made him as immutable as mountain Sinai;
whose beneficence and generosity of possession, generosity of time and generosity of
soul made him an oak with tens of thousands of branches giving shade and shelter to
one and all. His very name, Javad, means generosity.

When I think of my brother Javad, I think of Abraham of Ur to whom was given the mission “Go, teach my people faith…”
The mission for Javad Meymandi was “Go, teach my people history, critical thinking, self-reliance, and devotion to the principles of altruism and patriotism.”

When I think of Javad Meymandi, I think of Saint Jerome and Saint Augustine of Hippo who came, who gave, who served unselfishly, unreservedly and openly…
And whose devotion to truth, justice and love of humanity transcended all other considerations.

And finally, when I think of my brother, Javad, I think of a warm and accepting friend.

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*The writer is Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry, University of North Carolina School of Medicine at Chapel Hill, Distinguished Life fellow American Psychiatric Association, and Founding Editor and Editor-in-Chief, Wake County Physician Magazine (1995-2012). He serves as a Visiting Scholar and lecturer on Medicine, the Arts and Humanities at his alma mater the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health.

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