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Robert Klitzman Celebrates the Life of Neurologist Oliver Sacks

When the legendary neurologist Oliver Sacks passed away last year, he left behind an extraordinary body of work devoted to the mysteries of the human brain.

Last week’s World Science Festival in New York City kicked off with a special event, Awakening the Mind, a “multi-media memory piece”-cum-documentary that captured some of what made Sacks, according The New York Times, “a poet laureate of contemporary medicine.”

The event, which is available for streaming on Livestream, featured testimony from Sacks’ friends, colleagues, patients, and admirers, including Robert Klitzman, the director of the Master of Science in Bioethics Program.

Klitzman’s segment starts at 10:36, and it is a recollection of how Sacks read a book of his and sent a admiring letter along, written in “blue crayon,” that said his writing “was both light and deep at the same time.” In Klitzman’s view, Sacks paved the way for other scientists, with his wonderful ability to look about both the brain, the anthropology of it, “and the humanness of it.”

A longtime friend of the Columbia Bioethics program, we were lucky enough to have Sacks visit for a lecture on hallucinations in 2012.

Click here to see Oliver Sacks’ lecture on hallucinations, and read more about our Bioethics graduate program.