NIH director apologizes after hospital excludes patient's portrait during exhibit

National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins, MD, publicly apologized to the coordinator of an art exhibit Dec. 8 after the NIH's researchhospital objected to hanging one of the portraits in the exhibit, STAT News reports.

The institute's hospital was scheduled to host the "Beyond the Diagnosis Art Exhibit," which showcases portraits of children with rare diseases, for two months beginning in January. An op-ed piece for STAT published last week claimed the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, Md., pulled out of the exhibit after "the hospital art curator expressed to the exhibit organizer that one of the portraits in the collection of rare disease portraits may evoke negative emotions in patients."

Dr. Collins confirmed on Twitter Dec. 8 he called the Beyond the Diagnosis Founder and CEO Patricia Weltin to apologize.

Ms. Weltin told STAT she debated between pulling the single portrait or canceling the entire show prior to Dr. Collins' call.

"I had a really visceral reaction … in my mind there was no other decision at all. It's either all of us or none of us," she told the publication.

However, Ms. Weltin said her conversation with Dr. Collins was "lovely" and that the organization is already in talks with two other possible venues to host the exhibit.

"What kind of a leader stands up and takes responsibility and calls and apologizes. It was wonderful," Ms. Weltin told STAT.

To access the full report, click here.

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