About her poem A Technique for Operating on the Past, Maya said: "There is something pleasantly elliptical about the fact that a neuroscientist relies on the very instrument that is the subject of his study. I had long wanted to write a poem about Gr.T. Popa, my great-grandfather, after whom the Medical University in Iași, Romania, is named. He worked on neuro-morphology in the 1930s and 40s, but his remarkable research was ultimately cut short in light of his anti-fascist, and anti-communist affiliations. That he was forced into hiding and died of a routine ailment while escaping the communists still seems a dark irony. In a way, writing this poem felt like a letter to him, an acknowledgement of that unfairness."
In her poem, Maya Catherine Popa portrays her grandfather both as a physician, as well as a philosopher, which is close to the galenic perspective of a doctor. In Galen’s perspective, a physician’s education should also include liberal arts.
The Hippocrates Initiative began in 2009 as the Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine for an unpublished poem on a medical subject. The Hippocrates Initiative now also includes the international Hippocrates Society for Poetry and Medicine, annual international symposia at which the Hippocrates awards are also presented, an international research forum for poetry and medicine, The Hippocrates Press, and workshops, the first held in Venice in September 2013.