This opening program set the stage for our dialogue, with insight from researcher and author, Meg Jay.

Keynote Address: Meg Jay

Meg Jay focuses her research and practice on understanding resilience and the ways people, particularly young adults, cope—and even thrive—amid adversity. Her latest book, Supernormal: The Untold Story of Adversity and Resilience, explores the secret, inner world of those who are resilient.

Meg Jay is a clinical psychologist and a narrative nonfiction writer. In her books, she weaves the latest research with what she hears everyday: the behind-closed-doors stories of real people. Her books reveal the complex realities that lie behind stereotypes and misconceptions about development, changing how we think about topics, such as whether our twenties matter and how resilience works and feels.

In Supernormal: The Untold Story of Adversity and Resilience, Jay explores the secret, inner world of those who are resilient. Contrary to the notion that resilient youth bounce back from hard times, Jay shows that what they actually do is something much more complicated and courageous. They are nothing if not protagonists in their own lives, often waging fierce and unrelenting battles that continue well into adulthood. Jay argues that these men and women deserve a better metaphor than the bounce of a ball. They deserve a metastory that does justice to the full experience of being resilient. That is what Supernormal is all about. It is the amazing, untold story of resilience—the heroic, powerful, often perilous lifelong journey.

In The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter and How to Make the Most of Them Now, Jay elevates what it means to be a twenty-something. She argues that, rather than a developmental downtime, the twenties are a developmental sweetspot: a time when the things we do—and the things we don’t do—will have an enormous impact across years and even generations to come. The Defining Decade has sold more than 250,000 copies in all formats and has been published in more than a dozen countries around the world. Her related TED talk—“Why 30 Is Not the New 20”—has been viewed more than 10 million times.

Jay earned a doctorate in clinical psychology and in gender studies from the University of California, Berkeley. She earned a bachelor’s degree with high distinction in psychology from the University of Virginia. Her work has appeared in numerous media outlets, including the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Psychology Today, and on the BBC, NPR and TED.

Jay is an associate professor of education at the University of Virginia and maintains a private practice in Charlottesville. She is a Certified Clinical Trauma Professional as well as a Certified Child and Adolescent Trauma Professional.


Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton

Wrighton is chancellor and professor of chemistry at Washington University. Since he assumed his duties in 1995, Washington University has made unprecedented progress in campus improvements, resource development, curriculum, international reputation, and in undergraduate applications and student quality.

He served as a presidential appointee to the National Science Board (2000–06), which is the science policy advisor to the president and Congress and is the primary advisory board of the National Science Foundation. He has received many awards for his research and scholarly writing, including the distinguished MacArthur Prize. He is the author of more than 300 articles in professional and scholarly journals and the holder of 16 patents. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a member of the American Philosophical Society. Active in public and professional affairs, he has served on numerous governmental panels and has been a consultant to industry. He is an active member of numerous professional organizations and serves as a director on the boards of national companies and St. Louis organizations.

Wrighton earned his bachelor’s degree with honors in chemistry from Florida State University in 1969 and his doctorate in chemistry from the California Institute of Technology in 1972.


David H. Perlmutter, MD, The Spencer T. and Ann W. Olin Distinguished Professor, Executive Vice Chancellor for Medical Affairs and Dean, School of Medicine

Perlmutter is internationally recognized for his research on alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (ATD), a genetic disorder in which accumulations of a misfolded protein can cause severe liver damage. His work has led to advances in the understanding of how cells dispose of misfolded proteins that are toxic and cause cellular dysfunction. To evaluate potential treatments for ATD, Perlmutter and colleagues have developed a pipeline of drugs that includes one drug in phase II trials. The goal is to eliminate the need for liver transplantation, the only treatment option for patients with progressive liver disease due to ATD.

Perlmutter was trained at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and Boston Children’s Hospital and has been on the faculties of Harvard Medical School, University of Pittsburgh, and Washington University. Prior to his current position, he was a distinguished professor and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at University of Pittsburgh as well as physician-in-chief and scientific director of the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Perlmutter is a member of the National Academy of Medicine, chair-elect of the Medical Sciences Section of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, past president of the Society for Pediatric Research, and past member of the Advisory Council of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. He has been honored with numerous awards throughout his career, including the E. Mead Johnson Award for Research in Pediatrics from the American Pediatric Society and the Sass-Kortsak Award for Pediatric Liver Research from the Canadian Liver Association. He has authored more than 200 scientific publications and holds nine U.S. patents or patent applications.


Will Ross, MD, Associate Dean for Diversity and Professor of Medicine, School of Medicine

Ross is a professor of medicine in the Division of Nephrology. While overseeing diversity and community affairs over the past two decades, he has recruited and developed a diverse group of medical students, residents and faculty. He helped establish free local medical clinics such as the Saturday Free Clinic and Casa de Salud, and has worked nationally and globally on construction of conceptual frameworks to reduce health-care disparities. He is a charter and founding member of the St. Louis Regional Health Commission and served as Chairman of the board of the Missouri Foundation for Health. He is Chairman of the board of directors of the Mid America Transplant Foundation and Chairman of the St. Louis City Board of Health. He is a member of the Centers for Disease Control Health Committee on Health Disparities and the founding associate editor of Frontiers in Public Health Education and Promotion.

Ross formerly served as the medical director of St. Louis Regional Hospital. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Yale University and an MD from the Washington University School of Medicine. He also completed a master’s degree in epidemiology at Saint Louis University.