Eugene Braunwald and the Rise of Modern Medicineby Thomas H. Lee
Since the 1950s, the death rate from heart attacks has plunged from 35 percent to about 5 percent--and fatalistic attitudes toward this disease and many others have faded into history. Much of the improved survival and change in attitudes can be traced to the work of Eugene Braunwald, MD. In the 1960s, he proved that myocardial infarction was not a "bolt from the
Since the 1950s, the death rate from heart attacks has plunged from 35 percent to about 5 percent--and fatalistic attitudes toward this disease and many others have faded into history. Much of the improved survival and change in attitudes can be traced to the work of Eugene Braunwald, MD. In the 1960s, he proved that myocardial infarction was not a "bolt from the blue" but a dynamic process that plays out over hours and thus could be altered by treatment. By redirecting cardiology from passive, risk-averse observation to active intervention, he helped transform not just his own field but the culture of American medicine.
Braunwald's personal story demonstrates how the forces of history affected the generation of researchers responsible for so many medical advances in the second half of the twentieth century. In 1938 Nazi occupiers forced his family to flee Vienna for Brooklyn. Because of Jewish quotas in medical schools, he was the last person admitted to his class, but went on to graduate number one. When the Doctor Draft threatened to interrupt his medical training during the Korean War, he joined the National Institutes of Health instead of the Navy, and there he began the research that made him the most influential cardiologist of his time.
In Eugene Braunwald and the Rise of Modern Medicine, Thomas H. Lee offers insights that only authoritative firsthand interviews can provide, to bring us closer to this iconic figure in modern medicine.
By narrating the life story of renowned cardiologist and medical leader Eugene Braunwald, Lee (medicine, Harvard Univ.) examines how shifting trends in American society and medicine shaped the ways physicians conducted research, gained entrance into the profession, and dealt with the changing nature of health-care funding. In so doing, he shows the impact that these changes had on one of America's most prominent doctors. A German Jew, Braunwald came to the United States after the Nazis rose to power. He eventually went on to do groundbreaking research in cardiology at the National Institutes of Health; help found a medical school at the University of California, San Diego; and then join the faculty at Harvard Medical School. Braunwald also helped create the Partners Health System in Boston, which united some of Boston's hospitals in a single health-care organization. Most important, this book provides a firsthand account of medical research and how unexpected events and challenges can shape one's career and contributions to society. VERDICT An interesting retrospective about the changing nature of medicine and doctoring in American society through the well-told biography of one exemplary physician.—Aaron Klink, Duke Univ., Durham, NC
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Meet the Author
Thomas H. Lee is Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Network President at Partners HealthCare.
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