The University of Iowa
The University of Iowa News Services Home News Releases UI in the News Subscribe to UI News Contact Us

University of Iowa News

April 13, 2006

Medical History Lecture April 28 Explores Definition Of Death

From the fear of premature burial in previous centuries to recent debates over brain death, the definition of death has perplexed society. The topic will be the focus of the annual R. Palmer Howard Dinner hosted Friday evening, April 28, by the University of Iowa History of Medicine Society.

The featured speaker will be Martin S. Pernick, Ph.D., professor of history and associate director of the Program in Society and Medicine at the University of Michigan. Pernick will present "When Are You Dead? 250 Years of Debate over the Definition of Death."

Reservations for the event are required. Members of the public may order tickets by April 19. Reservation forms are available online at or by contacting Vicki Hudachek at 319-335-6706 or

The event begins with a reception at 5:30 p.m. in the Patient and Visitor Activity Lounge on the eighth floor (elevator F) of UI Hospitals and Clinics. Dinner and the lecture will follow at 6:30 p.m. in the Atrium Dining Room on the seventh floor (elevator D) of the hospital. Tickets are $20 for the general public and $10 for students. Admission includes the choice of a chicken or vegetarian ravioli entrée.

Pernick is the author of two books on the history of medicine, with two other books in progress, including one on the lecture topic. He also has promoted the collection, preservation and use of medical films as important historical sources for medicine and public health in the United States. In addition to teaching and publishing on medical-related topics, Pernick is a historical consultant for documentaries on the history of tuberculosis, eugenics and the meaning of death.

R. Palmer Howard, whom the dinner honors, was former director of the History of Medicine Program at the UI and a clinical professor in the Department of Family Practice from 1982 until his death in 1990.

For more information, call 319-335-6706 or 319-353-4681.

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all UI-sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires an accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact Ed Holtum at 319-335-9154 or

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Health Science Relations, 5137 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1178

CONTACTS: Media: Becky Soglin, 319-335-6660,; Program: Susan Lawrence, associate professor of history in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, UI History of Medicine Society, 319-353-4681,