Renowned Speaker and Author Samuel Shem to Kick Off MBL Falmouth Forum, December 6

Contact:  Susan Joslin
(508) 289-7281;

Samuel ShemWoods Hole, MA The MBL Falmouth Forum begins its 23rd season with a presentation on Friday, December 6 by Samuel Shem (pen-name of Stephen Bergman, M.D., Ph.D.) titled “The Essence of Good Medicine: from The House of God to Bill W. and Dr. Bob.” Shem is a psychiatrist, novelist, playwright, and activist. The talk will be held at 7:30 PM in the MBL’s Lillie Auditorium, 7 MBL Street, Woods Hole. Vist for details and updated information.

Shem has been described as “Easily the finest and most important writer ever to focus on the lives of doctors and the world of medicine,” (Bulletin of the Harvard Club of NYC).  The Lancet called The House of God “One of the two most significant medical novels of the 20th century.” The Boston Globe called its sequel, Mount Misery, about psychiatric residency at a mental hospital of that name, “outrageously funny, a sage and important novel by a healer and a Shakespearean.” These novels have been bestsellers in America, Germany, Spain, and the Czech Republic.

Shem is also the author of Fine, a novel about a psychoanalyst, which the New York Times called “Funny…Full of dazzling, zany intelligence…energetic and exuberant.”

Shem’s 2008 novel, The Spirit of the Place, about a primary care doctor in a small town, was reviewed by Diversion Magazine as “The perfect bookend to The House of God.”  It won the National Best Book Award in 2008 in General Fiction and Literature from USA Book News, and the Independent Publishers National Book Award in Literary Fiction in 2009.

With his wife Janet Surrey, Shem wrote the off-Broadway hit play Bill W. and Dr. Bob, about the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous, which won the Performing Arts Award of the National Council on Alcoholism in 2007. It returned off Broadway in July 2013.

Also with Surrey, Shem wrote the nonfiction book: We Have to Talk: Healing Dialogues Between Women and Men, winner of the Boston Interfaith Council’s Paradigm Shift Award, 1999.

Shem has delivered more than 50 commencement speeches on “How to Stay Human in Medicine,” including to Harvard Medical School in 2009.  He is a graduate of Harvard College and Medical School and lives in Boston and Costa Rica.

Sponsored by the MBL Associates, the Falmouth Forum series is free and open to the public. This MBL Falmouth Forum series is also supported by a generous donation from the Cooperative Bank of Cape Cod.

An optional buffet dinner will precede the lecture at 6:00 pm at the MBL’s Swope Center, 5 North Street, Woods Hole. Tickets are $30 (meal includes salad, pasta or potatoes, two entrees, wine, dessert, tax and gratuity) and must be purchased in advance at Eight Cousins Children’s Books, Main Street, Falmouth or at the MBL Communications Office (between 1:00 PM and 5:00 PM only), 127 Water Street, Woods Hole. Dinner tickets are available until they sell out or until 5:00 pm on Tuesday, December 3. For more information, contact the MBL Communications Office at (508) 289-7423 or

The 2013-2014 season lineup includes the following presentations. Visit for detailed information.

January 17, 2014
“Why Historical Truth and Accuracy Are So Important: The JFK Assassination Revisited”
Peter Janney, author, psychologist and consultant

February 14, 2014
“A Poetry Reading”
Stephen Dunn, Pulitzer-prize winning poet

March 7, 2014
“Revisiting Louis Agassiz: Creator of American Science”
Christoph Irmscher, author and Provost Professor of English, Indiana University

March 21, 2014
“Guano and Opening of the Pacific World: A Global Ecological History”
Gregory Cushman, Associate Professor of International Environmental History, The University of Kansas

April 4, 2014  Herman T. Epstein Endowed Memorial Lectureship
“The Accidental Universe”
Alan Lightman, physicist, writer, social entrepreneur, and professor of humanities at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) is dedicated to scientific discovery and improving the human condition through research and education in biology, biomedicine, and environmental science. Founded in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, in 1888, the MBL is a private, nonprofit institution and an affiliate of the University of Chicago.
The MBL Associates are a group of individuals and businesses that support the scientific mission of the MBL through their gifts to the Annual Fund. The Associates sponsor educational and research programs for the MBL and raise funds for special projects. In addition, they operate the MBL Gift Shop, located on Water Street in Woods Hole, the profits from which support scientific fellowships.