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Section on the History of Medicine: Franklin Delano Roosevelt: A Famous Patient

Date: September 27, 2012
Time: 5:30PM - 7:00PM

Light refreshments at 5:30 p.m., Lecture at 6:00 p.m.


Curtis W. Hart, M.Div.

Sponsored by: Section on the History of Medicine and Public Health and the Heberden Society

Location: The New York Academy of Medicine, 1216 Fifth Avenue at 103rd Street, New York, NY 10029

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the longest serving (1933-1945) president in United States history.  Elected to the presidency four times, he guided the country through the Great Depression and led it to victory in World War II.  Roosevelt was afflicted with polio in 191 when he was thirty-nine years old.  Recent biographical studies have brought to light the extraordinary partnership between Roosevelt and his physician, George Draper, M.D., who was both a clinician and faculty member at Columbia.  Draper's therapeutic partnership with Roosevelt sustained him during the most trying time of his illness.  Though Roosevelt was never able to walk again, with the help of Dr. Draper and others he did not lose hope and was able to re-emerge and return to his political career. The relationship between Roosevelt and Draper embodies the character of the healing partnership between doctor and patient. This presentation will describe something of that relationship. It will also show how Roosevelt's struggle with illness contributed to what has been called his "first rate temperament" and his personal designation as "Old Doc Roosevelt," both of which became significant personal components of his presidency.

About the Speaker(s)

Curtis W. Hart is Lecturer in Public Health, Medicine, and Psychiatry, Division of Medical Ethics at Weill Cornell Medical College and Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Religion and Health. At Weill Cornell he is active in teaching medical students, serves on the Institutional Review Board and is a participant in the Department of Psychiatry's Section in the History of Psychiatry. An ordained Episcopal priest, he is a graduate of Harvard College, A.B. cum laude and Union Theological Seminary, where he received his Master of Divinity. He is the author of numerous articles, book chapters and book reviews in professional and academic publications including essays on J. Robert Oppenheimer, William James and Paul Tillich. He is a Fellow of both The New York Academy of Medicine and the Society for Values in Higher Education. He lives in Tarrytown, New York.


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