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Conferences and Symposia Archive

Molecular Medicine in the War on Cancer:

Success or Failure?

"A virologist is among the luckiest of biologists because he can see into his chosen pet down to the details of all of its molecules."

  • —David Baltimore, 1975

Accepting his Nobel Prize for his part in the identification of reverse transcriptase, David Baltimore reflected on the “luck” that virologists enjoyed in their ability to see into problems with molecular precision. Although this vision seems inspiring and compelling today, Baltimore spoke at a time of fierce debate among biologists, legislators, and clinicians as to what, if anything, this molecular approach to disease offered. Many were concerned that seeing into the molecular roots of illness left other problems invisible. This lecture will examine debates over the identification of human cancer viruses and the development of a cancer vaccine during the War on Cancer, an attempt larger than the Human Genome Project, as a case for understanding the promises and pitfalls of molecular medicine. As the 50th anniversary of the War on Cancer approaches, this history also provides an opportunity to reflect on the ramifications of how success or failure are defined for the future pathways of biomedical research.

Link now to videocast.nih.gov/ical.ics?live=44150 to add this to your Outlook calendar.  

This event is sponsored by the Office of NIH History and Stetten Museum.  Our office advances the historical understanding of the biomedical research conducted at the NIH by documenting, preserving, and interpreting the history of significant NIH achievements, scientists, and policies.  Visit us at https://history.nih.gov.    
  

Flier: Lecture Series_R_Scheffler.pdf (PDF – 8.17 MB)

Date/Time: December 16, 2021, 12:00–1:00 p.m. ET

Videocast link: https://videocast.nih.gov/watch=44150

To view archived lectures from this and other History of Medicine lecture series, please link to https://videocast.nih.gov/PastEvents?c=221.

Photo of Robin Scheffler.

Robin Scheffler is an Associate Professor within the Program in the Science, Technology, and Society at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He studies the history of the modern biological and biomedical sciences and their intersections with developments in American history. His first book, A Contagious Cause, follows the history of cancer virus research in the twentieth century from legislature to laboratory, documenting its origins and impact on the modern biological sciences. He is currently writing a book on the history of the biotechnology industry in Boston, supported by the National Science Foundation and MIT's Levitan Prize in the Humanities. He is in the early stages of preparing a chemical biography of dioxins. The common goal of Professor Scheffler’s projects is to understand the mutual influence of science on society and of society on science.  

A Galaxy of Genius?

The Enduring Dream of Controlling Human Heredity

"What a galaxy of genius might we not create!"

  • —Francis Galton, 1865

"What a galaxy of genius might we not create!" burbled Francis Galton in 1865, exuberant about his conception of a voluntary human breeding program, to be informed by Darwinism.  Subpar intelligence, he was convinced, lay at the root of poverty, promiscuity, disease, and antisocial behavior of all kinds.  A similar enthusiasm girds contemporary social and behavioral genetics, or "sociogenomics."  In fact, every revolution in our understanding of heredity prompts a new wave of enthused hereditarianism: Darwinism, Mendelism, cytogenetics, molecular biology, genomics.  With every advance, scientists and the public ask new versions of the same questions, such as: Can we identify born criminals and stop crime before it starts? and, Is genius born or made?  Although the questions persist, technology and society are ever evolving.  This lecture will examine continuity and change in our enduring impulse to take control of our own evolution, as well as the benefits and risks of our perennial drive to understand, and improve, human nature.

Link now to https://videocast.nih.gov/ical.ics?live=44029 to add this to your Outlook calendar.  

This event is sponsored by the Office of NIH History and Stetten Museum.  Our office advances the historical understanding of the biomedical research conducted at the NIH by documenting, preserving, and interpreting the history of significant NIH achievements, scientists, and policies.  Visit us at https://history.nih.gov.    
  

Flier: Lecture Series_N_Comfort_sm.pdf (PDF – 3.13 MB)

Date/Time: October 28, 2021/12:00-1:00PM 

Videocast link: https://videocast.nih.gov/watch=44029

To view archived lectures from this and other History of Medicine lecture series, please link to https://videocast.nih.gov/PastEvents?c=221.

photo of Nathaniel Comfort outside wearing a black shirt

Nathaniel Comfort is Professor of the History of Medicine at Johns Hopkins University.  He is the author of The Tangled Field: Barbara McClintock's Search for the Patterns of Genetic Control (2001), editor of The Panda's Black Box: Opening Up the Intelligent Design Controversy (2007), and author of The Science of Human Perfection: How Genes became the Heart of American Medicine (2012).

History in the NIH

The 4th Annual Stetten Symposium

Program Cover

Conference program (PDF – 300KB)

Date/Time: 6 June 2012 / 12:30 - 5:00 p.m. 
Venue: Wilson Hall, Building 1, National Institutes of Health

This Symposium is a ‘progress report’ by the four current fellows in the Office of History.  Their presentations explore biostatistics and biometry at the NIH, the problem of Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy, Joseph Kinyoun (the founder of the forerunner of NIH/NIAID), and the origins of NIAAA and NIDA in the 1970s.

Stetten Symposium 2011

Download: Conference program (PDF - 464KB)

Date/Time: 14 June 2011 / 8:30 - 5:00 p.m. 
Venue: Wilson Hall, Building 1, National Institutes of Health

This Symposium is a 'progress report' by the eight Stetten fellows in the Office of History. Their presentations explore Federal responses to obesity; the NIH and the problems of homelessness; the problem of anticipation in hereditary disease; nanotechnology and cancer; complementary and alternative medicine at the NIH; the history of biological conceptions of mental illness; and the role of the NIH in promoting AIDS research in Africa. 

For further details please download the conference program (above).

Graduate and Post-Doctoral Student Symposium

Conference Brochure Cover

Download: Conference program (PDF - 252KB)
Date: 10 June 2011
Venue: Lister Hill Visitor’s Center (Building 38A), National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health
Free to Registrants 

This Symposium – cosponsored by the Office of History, the National Library of Medicine, the Society for the Social History of Medicine and the Chemical Heritage Foundation – aims to provide a forum for graduate and post-doctoral students in the history of medicine and the biomedical sciences in the Mid-Atlantic region to discuss issues of common interest. 

For further details and registration please download the conference program.

Stress, Trauma, and Adaptation in the 20th Century

Stress, Trauma, and Adaptation in the 20th Century

Conference program (PDF - 0.50 MB)

Date: 9-10 November 2010
Venue: Conference Room D, Building 45 (Natcher)
National Institutes of Health

This workshop brings together leading historians from the United States, Canada, Israel, the United Kingdom and Japan to explore changing ideas about stress in the twentieth century.  The meeting is co-sponsored by the Office of History, the National Library of Medicine, and the Centre for Medical History at Exeter University.    

For further details please download the conference program.

History at the NIH

Program Cover

Conference program (PDF - 2.35 MB)

Date/Time: 15 June 2010 / 8:30 - 5:30 p.m.
Venue: Conference Room D, Building 45 (Natcher)
National Institutes of Health

This Symposium is a 'progress report' by the seven Stetten fellows in the Office of History. Their presentations explore the NCI’s cancer virus program in the 1970s, public responses to Leptin and obesity, nanotechnology and cancer, the NIH consensus development program, complementary and alternative medicine at the NIH, the history of psychosurgery, and the role of the NIH in the development of research ethics. 

For further details please download the conference program. For a PDF of the conference poster click here.

Graduate and Post-Doctoral Student Symposium

Conference Program Cover

Conference program (PDF - 252KB) 

Date: 4  June 2010
Venue: Lister Hill Visitor’s Center (Building 38A), National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health
Free to Registrants

This Symposium – cosponsored by the Office of History, the National Library of Medicine, and the Washington Society for the History of Medicine – aims to provide a forum for graduate and post-doctoral students in the history of medicine and the biomedical sciences in the Washington DC area to discuss issues of common interest.

For further details and registration please download the conference program.

Finished Proofs? A Symposium to Celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the Publication of On the Origin of Species (1859)

Program Cover

Conference program (PDF - 2.2MB)

Date/Time: 1 October 2009 / 9:00 - 6:15 p.m.
Venue: Lister Hill Auditorium, National Library of Medicine (NIH), 8600 Rockville Pike, Bldg. 38A, Bethesda, MD

This symposium (co-organized by the Office of History and the History of Medicine Division of the National Library of Medicine) brings together leading historians, philosophers, and scientists to explore changing understandings of Darwinian theory in the last 150 years.

For further details please download the conference program.

History in the NIH

Program Cover

Conference program (PDF - 192KB)

Date/Time: 16 June 2009 / 12:30 - 5:00 p.m.
Venue: Conference Room D, Building 45 (Natcher),
National Institutes of Health

This Symposium is a 'progress report' by the four Stetten fellows in the Office of History. Their presentations explore NCI's cancer virus program in the 1970s; NIH research on cholesterol; complementary and alternative medicine at the NIH; and the role of the NIH in the development of research ethics.

For further details please download the conference program.

Graduate and Post-Doctoral Student Symposium

Program Cover

Conference program (PDF - 252KB)

Date: 8 May 2009
Venue: Lister Hill Visitor’s Center (Building 38A), National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health
Free to Registrants

This Symposium – cosponsored by the Office of History, the National Library of Medicine, and the Washington Society for the History of Medicine – aims to provide a forum for graduate and Post-Doctoral students in the history of medicine and the biomedical sciences in the Washington DC area to discuss issues of common interest.

For further details and registration please download the conference program.

The Role of the Research Physician: From Golden Past to Threatened Future?

Program Cover

Conference program (PDF - 112KB)

Date: 26-27 March 2009
Venue: The Cloisters (Building 60), National Institutes of Health
Free to Registrants

This conference brings together, for the first time, leading physician researchers, organizational leaders, historians, and social scientists for a multi-disciplinary exploration of the physician-scientist research tradition, its changing contours, and the challenges and opportunities it faces going forward.

For further details and registration please download the conference program.

Graduate Student Symposium

Program Cover

Conference program (PDF - 208KB)

Date: 2 May 2008
Venue: Lister Hill Visitor’s Center (Building 38A), National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health
Free to Registrants

This Symposium – cosponsored by the Office of History, the National Library of Medicine, and the Washington Society for the History of Medicine – aims to provide a forum for graduate students in the history of medicine and the biomedical sciences in the Washington DC area to discuss issues of common interest.

For further details and registration please download the conference program.