Ross Professor Blends Science of Medicine with Art and Discovers a Prescription for Wellness


May 8, 2009—(North Brunswick, NJ)—In an effort to demonstrate the powerful impact art can have on health and wellness, Desirée Cox, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of behavioral sciences at Ross’s Bahamas location, recently exhibited her work at the Air Gallery in Mayfair, London, in the show "Outside In."

The daughter of a very “pragmatic” family, Dr. Cox decided to become a physician early in life, even though at the time it seemed an almost impossible task.

“I remember saying to my great-grandmother that I wanted to be a doctor and she said, ‘That’s not possible—you’re a woman and there’s no university in The Bahamas and you would have to go to a foreign country and may catch cold and die of pneumonia,” she told the Spotlight.

Born in 1898 on a tiny island of The Bahamas called Crooked Island, her great-grandmother’s response was not surprising to Dr. Cox. “It was unheard of that a woman would become a doctor and go off to university,” she said. “However, when she understood that I was intent on becoming a doctor she became very encouraging. The thing that could always convince my family was, if you were determined to do a thing and they saw that you would give it your heart, your energy, and your focus they got behind you.”

So, Dr. Cox left The Bahamas and subsequently received her M.D. from Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. While at Oxford she received the Pembroke College prize for receiving top marks in her first year medical exams and in her final year she received the Radcliff Infirmary Prize for innovation and creativity. Following her training as a medical doctor she went on to Cambridge University, where she received a master’s in philosophy and Ph.D. in the history of medicine.

Although Dr. Cox had already worn many hats in her life—medical doctor, historian, professional musician, and author—until a few years ago she had never picked up a paintbrush, nor had she even given it any thought.

“I literally woke up one morning—having never painted before and with no interest in art at all at any point in my life—with a clear need to paint,” she said.

Knowing from experience that if she ignored the impulse it would only grow stronger, Dr. Cox immediately picked up the phone and called a local professional artist and asked him to teach her how to paint.

“And while I was doing that I was thinking how insane is this? I was totally busy working as a consultant and special advisor to the prime minister of The Bahamas on a new project involving  human development and urban renewal, and I thought now I have this need to paint.”

“I was painting sometimes for five hours a day because the experience of it was like nothing else. It was an experience of complete timelessness. It was such a brilliant, wonderful thing that I just kept painting.”

And keep on she did, for two years until her mentor told her to sign her name to her first truly completed work. A year after that Dr. Cox had her first solo exhibition in Nassau and it “went on from there” until the show in London presented itself, she said.

“Combining visionary paintings and evocative poetry, "Outside In" was an exhibition of contemporary surreal images which led viewers into the mythical and colorful real and unreal worlds that revolve in, through, and outside of us,” she explained. “The exhibition was a translation of conscious and unconscious excursions into a series of images painted on canvas, which invite the viewer to bask in various inner states.”

During the exhibition, Dr. Cox gave a lecture on consciousness and creativity and paradigms of whole person health which “people really connected with” she said.

“After that the gallery became this kind of therapeutic space. People resonated with the idea and started telling me stories about their journeys of wellness, which were true journeys of health in the deepest sense.”

Dr. Cox is currently looking forward to her next show in May, which will take place at a new gallery in Memphis. For more information, or to see additional images of Dr. Cox’s work, visit

About Ross University School of Medicine
Ross University was founded in 1978 and is a provider of medical and veterinary education offering doctor of medicine and doctor of veterinary medicine degree programs. Located in Dominica, West Indies, the School of Medicine places more students into U.S. residencies than any other medical school in the world and has clinical education centers in Miami, FL, Saginaw, MI, and Freeport, Grand Bahama. The School of Veterinary Medicine is located in St. Kitts.

Ross University’s administrative offices are located in North Brunswick, NJ. For more information about Ross University, visit or call 732.509.4600/877.ROSS.EDU.

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