During a research career spanning more than 50 years, Dr. Bernard Lown’s achievements changed the practice of cardiology. He pioneered development of the direct current defibrillator, now the standard of care for cardiac resuscitation. He developed the cardioverter for correcting disordered heart rhythms, and established the basis for the modern coronary care unit.
Dr. Lown’s work also has contributed substantially to an understanding of the role of psychological factors in heart disease. He pursued the formidable problem of sudden cardiac death, the leading cause of mortality in the developed world, and has been a consummate clinical teacher and lecturer who inspired hundreds of medical students as well as over two hundred cardiology fellows in the Lown training program.
Dr. Lown passionately believes that physicians are natural advocates for the sick, the poor, and the afflicted. He has led countless struggles for justice, social equity, and peace, locally as well as globally. In the early 1960s he was a founder of Physicians for Social Responsibility, and in the eighties he co-founded, with Dr. Yevgeny Chazov from the Soviet Union, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW). His peace activities have been recognized with a UNESCO Peace Prize, the Cardinal Medeiros Peace Award, the Gandhi Peace Prize, some 20 honorary degrees, and the Nobel Peace Prize, which he accepted in 1985 on behalf of IPPNW.
In 1987, Dr. Lown created a new organization, SatelLife, with the goal of transforming the technology of “star wars” to promote “star health” by providing free information services to health workers in developing countries. Foreseeing the impending epidemic of cardiovascular disease threatening the health and economies of developing countries around the world, Dr. Lown founded ProCor in 1997 to promote cardiovascular health using low-cost communication technologies.
Dr. Lown is Professor Emeritus at the Harvard School of Public Health and senior physician (ret.) at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, USA. He is the founder of the Lown Cardiovascular Group and is the Chairman Emeritus of the Lown Institute.
Dr. Lown graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Maine, and received his MD from the Johns Hopkins University of Medicine. He and his wife Louise have three children and five grandchildren.