NLM History of Medicine Lecture, May 24

“Transplanting Technology: Dr. Michael DeBakey and Cold War Technology Transfer”

You are cordially invited to the next NLM History of Medicine lecture, to be held Thursday, May 24, from 2 pm to 3:00 pm in the NLM Lister Hill Auditorium, Building 38A, National Library of Medicine, Bethesda, MD.  This special program will be the second annual NLM Michael E. DeBakey Lecture in the History of Medicine, honors the legacy of Dr. DeBakey as it exists in modern medical practice and in the ongoing public service of the NLM.

This year’s lecture will be delivered by Heidi Morefield, MSc – 2017 NLM Michael E. DeBakey Fellow in the History of Medicine, Doctoral Candidate, Department of the History of Medicine, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland.

At the height of the Cold War, Dr. Michael E. DeBakey, one of the most prolific American surgeons of the 20th century, made several trips to China and the USSR to survey the medical landscape on the other side of the Iron Curtain. DeBakey became a broker of valuable medical information, teaching new techniques and introducing new machines in the USSR and China while reporting on the conditions of Chinese and Soviet medical institutions back home to the American public. His diplomatic success was possible in part because of his willingness to take less high-tech medical systems seriously-he praised the barefoot doctors and was “impressed” with Russian medical inventions that were showcased during his visits. With rich diary entries describing his visits, DeBakey understood medical technology as being appropriate only in context. He situated both the Western technology he helped transplant to the East as well as that which he encountered there within the topography of the Soviet and Chinese medical systems. In reflecting upon DeBakey’s Cold War travels, this talk will interrogate how his influence and mobility shaped perceptions of both American and communist-sphere medical technology The NLM Michael E. DeBakey Lecture in the History of Medicine is supported by a generous gift to the NLM by the Michael E. DeBakey Medical Foundation This lecture will be live-streamed globally, and subsequently archived, by NIH VideoCasting.

All are welcome.

Sign language interpretation is provided. Individuals with disabilities who need reasonable accommodation to participate may contact Stephen Greenberg at 301-827-4577, e-mail, or via the Federal Relay (1-800-877-8339).

In addition, we warmly welcome you to visit our blog, “Circulating Now,” where you can learn more about the collections and related programs of the History of Medicine Division of the NLM.

Here also you can read interviews with previous lecturers.


Due to current security measures at NIH, off-campus visitors are advised to consult the NLM Visitors and Security website.

Sponsored by:
NLM’s History of Medicine Division
Jeffrey S. Reznick, Ph.D., Chief

Event contact:
Stephen J. Greenberg, MSLS, PhD
Section Head, Rare Books & Early Manuscripts History of Medicine Division National Library of Medicine, NIH

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