Cause: Gender parity in research on heart disease.
Celeb: Singer-actress-director Barbra Streisand knows a thing or two about heart-wrenching (have you seen “The Way We Were”?), but her passion for matters of the heart is clinical, too — in 2014, she founded the Women’s Heart Alliance to raise awareness and spur research into cardiovascular diseases. Fun fact: Her interest in the topic was first piqued by a former National Institutes of Health director’s writing about the “Yentl Syndrome,” a phenomenon (named after the 1983 Streisand movie in which the titular character poses as a boy to get an education) in which women’s heart problems are misdiagnosed far more than men’s.
Scene: At the National Institutes of Health on Tuesday, Babs delivered the J. Edward Rall Cultural Lecture, a speaker series whose alums include Yo-Yo Ma, the Dalai Lama and Maya Angelou. NIH staffers lined up for the lunch-hour talk, we’re told, which also featured a bonus appearance by Streisand’s husband, actor James Brolin, who sat in the front row. Later, Streisand was set to meet with senators on Capitol Hill on the subject.
Sound bite: Streisand joked with the NIH audience, which was full of folks with lots of letters after their names, about her role as their lecturer. “The closest thing I have to a medical credential is my role in ‘What’s Up, Doc?’ ” she said, to laughs.
But on a more serious note, she pressed for greater inclusion of women in heart research, likening the need for equity in the medical field to the much-discussed gender disparity in the entertainment world. “We have accepted barriers — some institutional, some invisible — to women’s full participation and recognition, whether we’re talking about women in Hollywood or women’s representation in medical research.”