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The Dean's Lecture Series
Alexander Ming Fisher Lecture
past events

Dean's Distinguished Lecture in the Basic Sciences

The Cartwright Lecture

Dean's Distinguished Lecture in the Clinical Sciences

David Seegal Alpha Omega Alpha Visiting Professorship Lecture

Heidelberger-Kabat Lecture

Dean's Distinguished Lecture in the Humanities

Innovation in Biological and Medical Sciences Distinguished Lecture

Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize Lecture

Samuel Rudin Distinguished Visiting Professorship Lecture

Thomas Q. Morris Symposia

Other Special Lectures and Events

Previous lectures:

Lecture Videos



Alexander Ming Fisher Lecture

The Alexander Ming Fisher Memorial Lecture on Death and Dying was established in the early 1970s by E. Douglas Southwick to commemorate the life of Alexander Ming Fisher, M.D., a graduate of Columbia University, and to institute a yearly lecture series on the topics of death and dying. Since 1974, Alexander Ming Fisher lecturers have explored a wide variety of issues including family care in terminal illness, death and public policy, the impact of AIDS on the practice of medicine, physician-assisted suicide, Medicare and terminal illness, and genetic engineering and the prolonging of life.

Available Videos:
Speakers: Craig Spencer, MD
Lecture Date:  December 8, 2015
Lecture Title: "Death and Dying in West Africa: Understanding Cultural Traditions and Conflicting Biomedical Imperatives During the Ebola Epidemic"

2017-2018 EVENTS

"The Death (and Rebirth?) of of Care: Quality, Efficiency, Agency, and Human Meanings"

Monday, April 2, 2018
4:30 p.m.
P&S Alumni Auditorium
650 West 168th Street, First Floor

Arthur Kleinman, MDArthur Kleinman, MD
Esther and Sidney Rabb Professor of Anthropology
Harvard University
Professor of Medical Anthropology in Social Medicine and Psychiatry
Harvard Medical School

Arthur Kleinman, MD is professor of medical anthropology in the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine and professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. He is also the Esther and Sidney Rabb Professor of Anthropology in the Department of Anthropology in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and was the Victor and William Fung Director of Harvard University's Asia Center from 2008 to 2016. Dr. Kleinman has written six books: Patients and Healers in the Context of Culture; Social Origins of Distress and Disease: Depression, Neurasthenia and Pain in Modern China; Rethinking Psychiatry; The Illness Narratives; Writing at the Margin; and What Really Matters. He has co-edited books on culture and depression, SARS in China, world mental health, suicide, placebos, AIDS in China, and the relationship of anthropology to philosophy (The Ground Between: Anthropologists Engage Philosophy). He is currently finishing a book on caregiving.

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2016 - Siddhartha Mukherjee, MD, DPhil, Assistant Professor of Medicine at Columbia University

2015 - Craig Spencer, M.D., MPH, Director of Global Health in Emergency Medicine at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center; Assistant Professor of Medicine at Columbia University Medical Center

2013 - Robert D. Truog, M.D., Frances Glessner Lee Professor of Medical Ethics, Anaesthesia, and Pediatrics; Director, Center for Bioethics, Harvard Medical School; Executive Director, Institute for Professionalism and Ethical Practice; Senior Associate in Critical Care Medicine Boston Children's Hospital

2012 - Diane Meier, M.D., Vice Chair for Public Policy and Professor, Hertzberg Palliative Care Institute and Brookdale Department of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine Catherine Gaisman Professor of Medical Ethic; Director, Center to Advance Palliative Care Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai

2011 - Jimmie C. Holland, M.D., Wayne E. Chapman Chair in Psychiatric Oncology, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center

2010 - Craig Blinderman, M.D. (Moderator), Assistant Professor of Palliative Care (in Anesthesiology and Medicine),
Director, Adult Palliative Medicine, Columbia University

2010 - Robert Pardi Jr., Dr. Desiree Pardi’s husband
Co-Founder & COO, Evolvence Capital

2010 - Betty Lim, M.D., Assistant Professor, Hertzberg Palliative Care Institute, Mount Sinai School of Medicine
Director, Samuels Palliative Care Project, Jewish Home Lifecare, New York City>

2009 - David Rieff, Journalist and Author

2008 - Brigadier General Loree K. Sutton, M.D., Director, Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury, "Waging Hope in the Shadow of Death."

2007 - Thomas H. Murray, Ph.D., President of The Hastings Center

2006 – Joan Didion is the author of five novels, Run River, Play It as It Lays, A Book of Common Prayer, Democracy, and The Last Thing He Wanted, and eight books of nonfiction, Slouching Towards Bethlehem, The White Album, Salvador, Miami, After Henry, Political Fictions, Where I Was From, and The Year of Magical Thinking.  She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.  In 2005 she was awarded the American Academy of Arts and Letters Gold Medal in Criticism and Belles Lettres, and also the National Book Award in Nonfiction.

2005 – Kathleen M. Foley, M.D., Attending Neurologist, Pain & Palliative Care Service, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center , Professor of Neurology, Neuroscience and Clinical Pharmacology, Cornell University Medical College, and Medical Director, International Palliative Care Initiative, Open Society Institute

2004 - Arthur Caplan, Ph.D.,Director, Center for Bioethics Emanuel and Robert Hart Chair of Bioethics Chair, Department of Medical Ethics, University of Pennsylvania

2003 – James Q. Wilson, Ph.D., Ronald Reagan Professor of Public Policy, Pepperdine University; James Collins Professor Emeritus of Management and Public Policy, UCLA

2001 - Nancy S. Wexler, M.D., Higgins Professor of Neuropsychology, College of Physicians & Surgeons, Columbia University

2000 - Neil Gillman, Ph.D., Aaron Rabinowitz & Simon H. Rifkind Professor of Jewish Philosophy, Jewish Theological Seminary of America; Daniel Callahan, Ph.D., director of international programs, the Hastings Center

1998 - Joanne Lynn, M.D., director, Center to Improve the Care of the Dying; professor of health care science, George Washington University School of Medicine

1997 - Bruce C. Vladeck, Ph.D., professor of health policy, Mt. Sinai School of Medicine

1996 - Daniel Callahan, Ph.D., director of international programs, the Hastings Center

1995 - Sherwin B. Nuland, M.D., clinical professor of surgery, Yale University

1994 - George Soros, founder and chairman, the Soros Foundation

1993 - Christine K. Cassel, M.D., F.A.C.P., professor of medicine and public policy studies, chief, Section of General Internal Medicine, University of Chicago Medical Center

1992 - H. Tristram Englehardt, Jr., M.D., Ph.D., professor of medicine and philosophy, Center for Ethics, Medicine and Public Issues, Baylor College of Medicine

1991 - Kenneth Ryan, M.D., professor and chairman, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Biology, Brigham and Women's Hospital

1990 - Rabbi Moses Tendler, Rabbi Isaac and Bella Tendler Professor of Medical Ethics, Yeshiva University

1989 - Edwin Cassem, M.D., acting chairman, Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital

1988 - Samuel O. Thier, president, Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences

1987 - Merle Sande, M.D., professor of medicine, University of California at San Francisco; chief, medical service, San Francisco General Hospital

1986 - Rev. John Parris, professor of social ethics, Holy Cross College; adjunct professor of medicine, University of Massachusetts

1985 - Ida M. Martinson, R.N., Ph.D., Health Care Nursing, School of Nursing, University of California at San Francisco

1984 - Francis D. Moore, M.D., Mosely Professor Emeritus of Surgery, Harvard University

1983 - Robert Jay Lifton, M.D., Foundation's Fund Research Professor of Psychiatry, Yale University

1981 - Alexander M. Capron, L.L.B., executive director, President's Commission for the Study of Ethical Problems in Medicine and Biomedical and Behavioral Research

1980 - Raymond S. Duff, M.D., professor of pediatrics, Yale University

1979 - Leon Kass, M.D., Henry R. Luce Professor of Human Biology, University of Chicago

1978 - Edwin Schneidman, Ph.D., professor of thanatology, Neuropsychiatric Institute, Unversity of California at Los Angeles

1977 - Robert Kastenbaum, Ph.D., professor of psychology, University of Massachusetts

1976 - Jeanne Quint Benoliel, R.D., D.N.Sc., professor and chairman, University of Washington School of Nursing

1975 - Colin Murray Parkes, M.D., Tavistock Institute of Human Relations, London, England

1974 - Cicely Saunders, O.B.E., M.R.C.P., medical director, St. Christopher's Hospice, London, England


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