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Obituary: Bernard Lown

“Bernard's achievements and example are really hard for any of us to meet, but that example inspires so many people to recognise what is possible,” said Vikas Saini, the President of the Lown Institute, in Boston, MA, USA. “His mantra was always: We need to take collective action. What are you doing with others to change things for the better?” “At the core of the mission was the belief that a holistic approach that incorporated the physician's presence, attention, and deep engagement with the entirety of the patient's lived experience was absolutely essential to heal patients,” Saini said. “Technology always came second. In later years we would adopt a motto reflecting this philosophy: “Do as much as possible for the patient and as little as possible to the patient.” “He showed all of us who are clinicians what it meant to be a healer and a citizen of the world,” Saini said. “He believed that medicine must exist beyond the clinic to be true to its highest calling. That came from his unwavering moral commitment to social justice and the radically better system of health that we must create to achieve it.” More

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