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Vol. LXI, No. 3
February 6, 2009

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Rall Cultural Lecture To Feature Gawande

Surgeon and writer Dr. Atul Gawande will deliver the NIH Cultural Lecture, newly renamed the J. Edward Rall Cultural Lecture, on Wednesday, Feb. 11 at 3 p.m. in Masur Auditorium, Bldg. 10. He will speak on “The Science of Failure in Medicine.”

Gawande is a staff member of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the New Yorker magazine. His research focuses on reducing deaths, complications and disparities in surgery in the United States and abroad. This work includes examination of patterns of avoidable surgical complications, rates of surgery globally and the development and testing of techniques to reduce complications. A large part of this work is carried out through WHO’s Safe Surgery Saves Lives program, which he directs.

In 2006, Gawande received a MacArthur Award for his research and writing. His book Complications: A Surgeon’s Notes on an Imperfect Science was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2002 and is published in more than 100 countries. His most recent book, Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance, was a New York Times bestseller and one of’s 10 best books of 2007.

Last December, NIH acting director Dr. Raynard Kington approved the renaming of the Cultural Lecture, part of the Wednesday Afternoon Lecture Series, in honor of the late Dr. Ed Rall, a consummate scientist, a charismatic mentor and recruiter and an engaging Renaissance man who profoundly influenced the style and substance of the NIH intramural research program. It was Rall who recommended in 1984 that NIH add a cultural lecture to its Director’s Lecture series, reflecting his broad interest in science and his desire to enrich the NIH scientific community. NIHRecord Icon

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