When I first heard about Padma Lakshmi coming to MIT , the details (i.e., what for?) were inconsequential  in my decision to attend her speech. As the host of one of my favorite TV shows, Top Chef, she was the second most famous person to visit MIT this semester (second to…well…Barack Obama, if you’ve heard of him) and I figured it’d be memorable and fun. Little did I know she was coming to MIT to help launch a new research center for women’s diseases; MIT is the first engineering school to take on such an endeavor! Quite the historical step!

Padma came to MIT to discuss her battle with Endometriosis, a common but not well known disease that affects 10 million women in the United States and over 90 million worldwide. It is highly treatable when detected early…unfortunately, it usually is not. The disease causes a great deal of pain and in its later stages, infertility. But Padma spoke to us (very eloquently and poignantly, I might add) on Friday while six months pregnant, and explained the path of misdiagnoses that finally lead to the correct diagnosis, treatment, and eventual triumph over the disease.

My favorite part of Padma’s lecture was when she mentioned the obvious dichotomy between wanting to be a private person through keeping her personal life confidential but also needing to share such a personal part of her life in order to spread awareness about Endometriosis. She reconciled this by always keeping the greater good in mind. “I asked myself, ‘what’s more important? My life or the lives of millions of others?’ I chose the latter.”

For more information on MIT’s new research center, check out: http://web.mit.edu/cgr/

For more information on Endometriosis, check out: http://www.endometriosisassn.org/