NIH Record - National Institutes of Health

Charon To Give Annual Gadlin Lecture, Sept. 24

Dr. Rita Charon
Dr. Rita Charon

Dr. Rita Charon will be the guest speaker at the second annual Gadlin Lecture Series, honoring former longtime NIH ombudsman Dr. Howard Gadlin. Her topic is “To See Life Everywhere: The Urgency of Personal Stories in Medicine.” The talk will be held Tuesday, Sept. 24 at 2 p.m. in Masur Auditorium, Bldg. 10.

Charon recently gained acclaim as the 2018 National Endowment of the Humanities Jefferson Lecturer. She is a physician, a literary scholar and founder of narrative medicine; she serves as chair of this program at Columbia University. Narrative medicine is a movement within medical education to bring ideas of literary scholarship into the realm of clinical practice.   

After completing her residency at Montefiore Hospital and Medical Center in the Bronx in 1982, Charon joined the faculty of the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University. There she began considering problems in the medical profession that the humanities could help address. Her colleague in narrative medicine Dr. Craig Irvine of Columbia University quotes an article of hers from 1986 that captures her concerns: a medical culture that is “mechanistic, paternalistic, misguided and ultimately ineffective.” The solution, Charon argues, is to center medicine “on its true subject of concern: the lives of the people it serves.” 

Sign language interpreting services are available on request. Individuals who need this or other accommodation to participate should contact Sarah Kith at or the NIH Interpreting Office directly, via email, at Requests should be made at least 5 days before the event.

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