Eana Meng’s parents made her name: “Eana” is the first two letters of East and the last two letters of China. Her parents preserved family traditions and the Chinese language at home, but in the suburbs of Boston, Eana grew up around the authority of American institutions. These two environments clashed when Eana was ten and went to the hospital for abdominal pain. The physician immediately diagnosed Eana with appendicitis and recommended surgery, but Eana’s mother requested for basic blood work, having had a similar experience of abdominal pain that was misdiagnosed as appendicitis and cured by Chinese medicine. The physician was insistent, proceeding to remove a healthy appendix.
With a difficult recovery and subsequent chronic illnesses, Eana is driven to understand and integrate different healing traditions to improve patient outcomes. She currently focuses on her grandmother’s practice of Chinese medicine. Graduating magna cum laude with highest honors in history of medicine at Harvard College, Eana researched the use of acupuncture by revolutionaries of color in the 1970s for her senior thesis, which later became her first publication in the American Journal of Public Health.
Eana is documenting the little-known history of the Black Panther Party’s trip to China in 1972. She works closely with Doctor Tolbert Small, the Panther’s doctor in Oakland, who integrated Western and Chinese medicine after returning from the China trip. Eana also traces the global legacies of an acupuncture treatment for addiction started in the South Bronx by Mutulu Shakur, which led her to the University of Cambridge for her master’s to study the use of acupuncture in the British prison system.
Eana is committed to the dual practice of medicine and history, through practicing integrative medicine and illuminating hidden and complementary histories of complementary medicines as utilized by historically marginalized communities. She is dedicated to accessible scholarship, having created short films and curated exhibits to bring her work to a larger set of audiences. She applies historical lessons to the present day, founding the Small Steps Project to promote accessibility to integrative medicine and the Harvard/MIT Equitable Access to Research Training (HEART) MD/PhD summer program to increase the diversity of the physician-scientist workforce.
Eana hopes to encourage people to understand that we are all far more similar than different. Even at the fringes—radical politics and alternative medicine—we see the universal desire to seek healing amid suffering. Furthermore, Eana hopes to inspire all people to document their histories and take pride in their contributions to American society, no matter how big or small.