MarkAlain Dery

Scholarly Retreats
Type of work
New Orleans, LA

MarkAlain Dery is a physician and the founder of the Tulane T Cell Clinic who places compassion in the highest category of his professional duties. Dr. Dery used his residency to compile a collection of stories from his life and tie them together into a cohesive narrative promoting human rights, social justice, compassion and laughter.

Dr. Dery is a native of Los Angeles California. After graduating from the University of California, Dr. Dery obtained two masters of public health degrees from Loma Linda University, one in international health and the other in biostatistics.

Dr. Dery then obtained a full scholarship to obtain his medical degree from the University of New England; he did a research fellowship year that resulted in a very important research paper on the mechanics of lymphatic flow.

After medical school, Dr. Dery went on to complete his residency in internal medicine at Case Western Reserve University where his research and medical focus were in international health and the affects of poverty on health.

While in residency Dr. Dery was invited to join the MetroHealth LifeFlight team and he spent the next 10 years of his career in the back of helicopter as a trauma physician. This corresponded with the same time that he moved to the Navajo Reservation where he did his payback to the National Health Service Corp for providing the scholarship to attend medical school. Dr. Dery served as a medical officer and worked in emergency rooms across the reservation as well as an internist.

Just prior to Hurricane Katrina, Dr. Dery was in the process of making the move to New Orleans to start his career as an infectious diseases physician. As soon as Katrina hit New Orleans, Dr. Dery was immediately sent to the Houston Astrodome to render health care to the Katrina evacuees. By coincidence, a former colleague from MetroHealth LifeFlight was in charge of the operations and immediately placed Dr. Dery in charge of the Astrodome Health Clinic, where he remained from Hurricanes Katrina to Rita.

This experience of being in the Astrodome and delivering care to the New Orleans evacuees only strengthened his resolve to move to New Orleans when the City was at its lowest point. Dr. Dery immediately started his infectious diseases fellowship at Tulane University School of Medicine and was retained as faculty upon completion of his fellowship. Dr. Dery is double boarded in both internal medicine and infectious diseases.

In an effort to address the staggering rates of HIV and AIDS in New Orleans, Dr. Dery was able to start the Tulane T Cell Clinic within the Ruth Fertel Community Health Center. The T Cell Clinic is a Ryan White funded clinic serving people living with HIV regardless of insurance, housing, or financial status. The clinic started with Dr. Dery and the clinic manager Jeannette Zapata; several years later, the clinic expanded to include another adult infectious diseases physician. Recently the clinic was expanded again to include two pediatric infectious diseases/HIV physicians.

New Orleans and Baton Rouge (located 60 miles West of New Orleans) consistently rank in the top cities in the US for new case diagnosis of HIV and AIDS. Dr. Dery in 2010 started a non-profit organization called the New Orleans Society for Infectious Disease Awareness (NOSIDA) to raise awareness of HIV in Southern Louisiana. NOSIDA is particularly interested in promoting HIV testing in and around Southern Louisiana to raise the awareness of people living with HIV’s status. It’s startling to consider that one in five people living with HIV are unaware of their status, more startling yet is the fact that these minority of people living with HIV are responsible for a majority (60-80%) of all viral transmissions. The mission for NOSIDA is to find these individuals through HIV testing, get them into treatment and onto highly active antiretroviral therapy to decrease their HIV viral load and thus decreasing the likelihood of viral transmission.

NOSIDA has also been instrumental in creating music events that focus on HIV awareness and HIV testing; the HIV Awareness Music Project (HAMP). NOSIDA has been successful in raising awareness surrounding HIV in New Orleans through the use of HAMP. Every year around World AIDS Day, Dr. Dery is featured in local media talking about HIV and the importance of HIV testing. HAMP is a unique event that utilizes musicians, and other high profile media oriented people to perform ‘mock’ HIV testing on stage (using the oral swab) to show how easy it is to be tested for HIV. At every HAMP, there is always free and confidential HIV testing on site.

In 2013, NOSIDA applied with the FCC to start a new radio station in New Orleans. In 2014, the FCC granted NOSIDA a building permit to start the process of building a new radio station. The legal name of the station is Radio NOLA HIV;Programming Dedicated To Human Rights and Social Justice. The frequency on the FM dial is 102.3 and the call letters are WHIV. The format of the station will be local New Orleans/Louisiana talk in the mornings and afternoons and local New Orleans music in the evenings, weekends and holidays. The purpose of WHIV is to provide a voice to those without a voice in New Orleans, this will be true community radio… radio for the people of New Orleans, by the people of New Orleans.