Monday, September 19, 2016

Physician and author Abraham Verghese, who received his MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop in 1991, is among the recipients of the 2015 National Humanities Medal.

Verghese is a professor and vice chair for the theory and practice of medicine at Stanford University's School of Medicine. According to the National Endowment for the Humanities, Verghese was selected "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."

Verghese’s first book, Cutting for Stone, was one of five chosen as Best Book of the Year by TIME magazine in 2010 and later made into a Showtime movie. He also wrote The Tennis Partner: A Story of Friendship and Loss, about his friend and frequent tennis partner’s losing struggle with addiction, and My Own Country: A Doctor's Story, about treating an AIDS patient in a rural Tennessee hospital. His upcoming book is titled The Maramon Convention.

President Obama will present the recipients with their medals at the White House on Sept. 22.

The National Humanities Medal, awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, honors individuals or groups whose work has deepened the nation's understanding of the humanities and broadened citizens' engagement with history, literature, languages, philosophy, and other humanities subjects. Up to 12 medals are awarded each year.

Marilynne Robinson, former director and professor emerita at the Writers' Workshop, received the medal in 2012. The Writers’ Workshop received a 2002 medal. At that time, it was only the second institution to receive the award.