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Remarks at Portrait Unveiling, National Institutes of Health

The text that follows is an edited version of some of my remarks on the occasion of the unveiling of my portrait at the NIH on January 15, 2003. I am grateful to Elias Zerhouni, the Director of the NIH, for organizing and hosting the ceremony and for suggesting that I put my informal comments into a written form.

February 1, 2003
at The National Institutes of Health

This is a happy event for me because I like the painting that has just been unveiled and because I am pleased that it will hang at the NIH—where I was shaped as a scientist in the 1960s and where I was given a chance to help shape science in the 1990s. I am also pleased that my image is recognizable, not only to others but to me, and that the artist, Jon Friedman, my wife, Constance Casey, and so many of my friends and colleagues have come here for this occasion.

My objective today is to speak briefly about the portrait’s backdrop, not about my own image, because that backdrop—Jon’s inspired rendition of Jacques-Louis David’s famous painting of Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier and his wife, Marie-Anne Pierrette Paulze—says a great deal about what I would like my image to connote.

When Jon and I decided to put this complex painting in the background, we had several goals in mind. Perhaps most significantly, the Lavoisier portrait celebrates science and its relationship to many things I value highly in my own life.

Finished NIH portrait, now hanging in Building One (James Shannon Building). Jon Friedman, 2002.