Nobel Laureate Dr. Robert Lefkowitz and David M. Rubenstein Discuss Life, Jewish Values, Path to the Nobel Prize

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Jewish Life at Duke

From funny, personal stories of his mother’s reaction to his research awards – “that’s very nice, Bobby, but it’s not the Nobel” – to wise advice about mentorship and persistence, Dr. Robert Lefkowitz delighted over 200 viewers who tuned in to his virtual interview at Jewish Life at Duke with former Blue Devil David M. Rubenstein ’70 earlier this week.

The conversation, introduced by Emma Mehlhop ‘21, a Jewish senior studying Economics and Global Health, was an entertaining and insightful peek inside the life and work of the cardiologist turned legendary scientist whom the Swedish press corps dubbed “the happiest Laureate.” Lefkowitz shared stories of his career path, family and personal life, and how his Jewish values shaped his life.

“There are several Jewish values that have really guided my life and my career, and both of them are things which I basically learned in Hebrew school… [One] value is the whole concept of kavod, dignity. That’s probably the single most precious value to me, the appreciation of everyone’s dignity… We all are equally deserving of our dignity and the respect of others, and I’ve tried to live that,” shared Lefkowitz.

Above is a recording of the interview with Dr. Lefkowitz, Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, James B. Duke Professor of Medicine, and Professor of Biochemistry and Chemistry. A physician, scientist, and author, his memoir, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Stockholm: The Adrenaline-Fueled Adventures of an Accidental Scientist, was published earlier this year.

Moderator David M. Rubenstein, himself a member of Duke’s Jewish alumni community, is the Co-Founder and Co-Chairman of The Carlyle Group and host of The David Rubenstein Show: Peet to Peer Conversations.

The program was hosted by Jewish Life at Duke, the Jewish “home away from home” for Duke students and a resource for Jewish faculty, staff, alumni, and parents. Comprising the Freeman Center for Jewish Life and the Rubenstein-Silvers Hillel, Jewish Life at Duke takes a pluralistic approach to Judaism to ensure that all Jewish students are welcome and included.