Brilliant Indian-American physician, professor and author will be conferred with nation’s highest honor in the humanities
By Geeta Goindi
Washington, DC, September 16, 2016 – President Obama will award the prestigious National Humanities Medal to Dr. Abraham Verghese, a brilliant physician, professor and author of Indian origin, at a White House ceremony on Thursday, September 22.
Dr. Verghese is based in Palo Alto, California, and currently serves as Professor of the Theory and Practice of Medicine at Stanford University Medical School. A prolific writer, he has many books to his credit including ‘My Own Country’, ‘Cutting for Stone’ and ‘The Tennis Partner’.
The citation which will be read at the White House ceremony conveys the medal is being awarded to “Abraham Verghese for reminding us that the patient is the center of the medical enterprise. His range of proficiency embodies the diversity of the humanities; from his efforts to emphasize empathy in medicine, to his imaginative renderings of the human drama”.
President Obama will award 24 distinguished recipients with either the 2015 National Humanities Medal or the National Medal of Arts. Dr. Verghese is among twelve recipients who will be conferred with the nation’s highest honor in the humanities.
He is the second Indian-origin author to be conferred with this top US award. Last year, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Jhumpa Lahiri was duly recognized with the 2014 National Humanities Medal.
Among other luminaries awarded the 2015 National Humanities Medal were: chef and entrepreneur Jose Andres of Bethesda, Maryland; authors James McBride, Louis Menand, Ron Chernow and Rudolfo Anaya; poet Louise Gluck; radio host and producer Terry Gross; journalist Isabel Wilkerson; musician Wynton Marsalis; historian Elaine Pagels; and the Prison University Project, Higher Education Program.
The National Medal of Arts recipients included: actors Mel Brooks and Morgan Freeman; actress Audra McDonald; director and playwright Moises Kaufman and Luis Valdez; composer Philip Glass; songwriter Berry Gordy; musician Santiago Jimenez, Jr.; dancer and choreographer Ralph Lemon; painter Jack Whitten; author Sandra Cisneros. and the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center.
The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) were established by Congress in 1965 as independent agencies of the federal government. The NEH brings the best in humanities research, public programs, education, and preservation projects to the American people. To date, NEH has awarded five billion dollars in grants to build the nation’s cultural capital and to advance an understanding and appreciation of history, literature, philosophy, and language.
The NEA has awarded over five billion dollars to support artistic excellence, creativity and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities.
Both Endowments are celebrating their 50th anniversaries this year.