Rall Lecture Features Host-Guest Swap

NIH director Dr. Francis Collins interviews
NIH director Dr. Francis Collins interviews Diane Rehm at Rall Lecture.

Maybe the key to being a longtime successful radio show host is being, oneself, quite interesting. That insight was gently excavated by NIH director Dr. Francis Collins over the course of an hour-long conversation with Diane Rehm at the Rall Cultural Lecture Apr. 7 in Masur Auditorium.

Part of the reason their public dialogue seemed so effortless is that Collins has been Rehm’s guest on NPR’s The Diane Rehm Show at least 10 times. Rehm said on-air interviews flow most smoothly when guests know their subject fully, and name-checked exemplars from NIH, including Collins, NIAID director Dr. Anthony Fauci and NIAMS director Dr. Stephen Katz.

Collins cheerfully acknowledged that turnabout is fair play at the outset of their conversation. “I step into the role she would normally play,” he said, admitting to feelings of pressure. It was now on him to make a guest feel at ease. He needn’t have fretted.

Collins first asked about Rehm’s non-traditional path to journalism. From there, the dominos fell.

A native Washingtonian, Rehm graduated from high school in 1954. Neither of her parents thought college was for girls, so she became a secretary at the D.C. department of highways, deploying workers to fill the potholes her boss had noticed on his commute to work.

Recruited to another secretarial position at the U.S. Department of State, she found herself “surrounded by intellectuals,” including a particularly learned and handsome young man named John Rehm. “He became my teacher,” Rehm said, and eventually her husband.

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NIAID Researchers Move Closer to Universal Flu Vaccine

Dr. Matthew Memoli
Dr. Matthew Memoli

Flu viruses mutate from year to year— sometimes gradually, sometimes suddenly. By mutating, they make it harder for the immune system to eliminate them. Two NIAID scientists are attempting to learn more about how the viruses function so they can develop better vaccines. They reviewed their findings at a Clinical Center Grand Rounds lecture in Lipsett Amphitheater recently.

Dr. Matthew Memoli, director of the clinical studies unit in the Laboratory of Infectious Diseases, described work in his lab to understand how the flu virus causes disease. Dr. Jeffery Taubenberger, chief of the viral pathogenesis and evolution section in LID, reviewed efforts to develop a vaccine that protects against multiple flu strains.

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