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J. Edward Rall Cultural Lecture

The NIH Director’s Cultural Lecture, part of the Wednesday Afternoon Lecture Series was renamed in December 2008 in honor of Joseph “Ed” Rall, who helped to define NIH’s modern intramural research program and, in the 1950s, to establish a stable academic-like community within a rapidly expanding government agency. Rall was 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. For more information on Ed Rall's legacy, see video here

Music and the Mind

May 13, 2019
Renée Fleming , Artistic Advisor-at-Large, Kennedy Center

Renée Fleming is one of the most acclaimed singers of our time. In 2013, President Obama awarded her America's highest honor for an artist, the National Medal of Arts. She brought her voice to a vast new audience in 2014, as the only classical artist ever to sing the National Anthem at the Super Bowl. Winner of the 2013 Grammy Award (her fourth) for Best Classical Vocal Solo, Ms. Fleming has sung for momentous occasions from the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony to the Diamond Jubilee Concert for Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace. In 2008 Ms.

Taking Women’s Health to Heart: An Afternoon with Barbra Streisand

May 15, 2018 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm
Barbra Streisand, -

NIH has the honor of hosting world-renowned recording artist, actress, director and philanthropist Ms. Barbra Streisand for the Annual J. Edward Rall Cultural Lecture. Her presentation, "Taking Women’s Health to Heart: An Afternoon with Barbra Streisand," will consist of opening remarks by Ms. Streisand and then move to a conversation between Ms. Streisand and NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins. Topics will include Ms. Streisand's advocacy for including women in medical research and her role as the co-founder of the Women's Heart Alliance.

A Morning with Yo-Yo Ma

December 5, 2016 - 10:00am to 11:00am
Yo-Yo Ma, -

NIH has the honor of hosting world-renowned cellist Mr. Yo-Yo Ma for the Annual J. Edward Rall Cultural Lecture. The presentation will be in interview format between Mr. Ma and NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins speaking about the commonalities between music and science. During the event, Mr. Ma will answer questions from the NIH staff. The annual cultural lecture (part of the Wednesday Afternoon Lecture Series) honors the memory of J. Edward Rall, founder of the Clinical Endocrinology Branch (now within NIDDK), and the first Deputy Director for Intramural Research.

On My Own: An Afternoon with Diane Rehm

April 7, 2016 - 3:00pm to 4:00pm
Ms. Diane Rehm, WAMU 88.5

Diane Rehm is a native Washingtonian who began her radio career in 1973 as a volunteer producer for WAMU 88.5, the NPR member station in Washington, D.C. She was hired as an assistant producer and later became the host and producer of two health-oriented programs. In 1979, she began hosting WAMU’s local morning talk show, “Kaleidoscope,” which was renamed “The Diane Rehm Show” in 1984. The lecture will be in interview format with NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins interviewing Ms.

Medicine and the Media: A morning with Sanjay Gupta, M.D.

March 25, 2015
Sanjay Gupta, M.D., Emory University & CNN

This year's annual NIH J. Edward Rall Cultural Lecture features Dr. Sanjay Gupta, an Emmy Award-winning journalist and chief medical correspondent for CNN. Dr. Gupta is a successful practicing neurosurgeon and a member of the American College of Surgeons, the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, and the Congress of Neurological Surgeons. His talk is is entitled "Medicine and the Media: A morning with Sanjay Gupta, M.D."

His Holiness the Dalai Lama - The Role of Science in Human Flourishing

March 7, 2014 - 3:00pm to 4:00pm
His Holiness the Dalai Lama, -

An Afternoon with Poet Rita Dove: Sonata Mulattica

March 13, 2013 - 3:00pm to 4:00pm
Rita Dove, -

Ms. Dove will discuss her latest book, Sonata Mulattica, a poetic treatise on the life of 19th-century Afro-European violinist George Polgreen Bridgetower. The son of a white woman and an “African Prince,” George Polgreen Bridgetower (1780–1860) travels to Vienna to meet “bad-boy” genius Ludwig van Beethoven. The great composer’s subsequent sonata is originally dedicated to the young mulatto, but George, exuberant with acclaim, offends Beethoven over a woman. From this crucial encounter evolves a grandiose yet melancholy poetic tale.


The page was last updated on Wednesday, March 9, 2022 - 10:10pm