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Remembering Bernard Lown: physician, activist, Nobel Peace Prize winner

I have long thought that there are three types of physician. The first is fascinated by the intricacy and complexity of biomedical science. The second finds inspiration in the personal relationship between doctor and patient. The third is committed to the broader context of health, to social justice and to making the world a better place. These three groups have boundaries that are necessarily fuzzy, and many doctors belong to one or two of them. Very few belong unequivocally in all three. Bernard Lown, who died recently at age 99, was one of these. More

A Tribute to Bernard Lown

Lown touched my life through the Right Care Alliance—a sister organization of the Lown Institute. For a slow-adopting, skeptical medical conservative, the annual Lown meeting was nirvana. Lown meetings were the opposite of cardiology meetings. Cardiology conferences celebrate the science, congratulate the scientists, and promote the latest technology. Lown meetings tackled what is wrong with medicine: overdiagnosis, overtreatment, fractured specialty-centric care, biased evidence, and the crisis in end-of-life care. An invite to speak at Lown transformed my life. I couldn't believe this many people thought exactly as I do. I met clinicians, editors-in-chief, and researchers who study the state of medical evidence. My modest foray into academic work traces back to the connections I made. I now realize this was by design. Lown knew that bringing like-minded people together was vital. If somebody takes the initiative, others will see it and follow. A movement grows, then change happens. More

Dr. Bernard Lown, creator of 1st effective heart defibrillator, dies at 99

Bernard Lown, MD, a renowned cardiologist who played a pivotal role in the development of the first reliable heart defibrillator, died Feb. 16. "Bernard Lown was one of the greatest physicians of the last, or any century, and I was privileged to call him my teacher, colleague and friend," said Vikas Saini, MD, president of the Lown Institute, a nonpartisan think tank that advocates for civic leadership and accountability in healthcare founded by Dr. Lown in 1973. "He showed us what it meant to be a healer and a citizen of the world. His commitment to social justice and a radically better healthcare system illuminated his belief that medicine must exist beyond the clinic to be true to its highest calling." More