U.S. Mint releases coin honoring Dr. Bernard Lown

The United States Mint began issuing a $1 Innovation Coin for the state of Maine on May 16, 2024. This coin features an image of Dr. Bernard Lown, the founder of the Lown Institute, and a direct current defibrillator on the reverse side.

“Dr. Lown’s many contributions to medicine, including the invention of the direct current defibrillator, are responsible for saving countless lives,” said Maine Governor Janet Mills.  “A graduate of Lewiston High School and the University of Maine, his story is a shining example of the outsized impact Maine people have had—and continue to have—on our nation and world.”

Introduced in 2018, the American Innovation $1 Coin Program is a multi-year series featuring distinctive reverse designs that pay homage to America’s ingenuity and celebrate the pioneering efforts of individuals or groups from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Territories.

Working with fellow refugee and immigrant Baruch Berkovitz in the early 1960’s, Lown developed the direct current defibrillator, a device that would save countless lives around the world and help make open-heart surgery possible. This invention was just one of Dr. Lown’s many achievements, including winning the Nobel Peace Prize through his work with International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), an effort uniting physicians around the world against nuclear proliferation.

Dr. Lown died in 2021 at the age of 99. To honor Dr. Lown’s memory, and because our society needs more leaders like him, the Lown Institute created the Bernard Lown Award for Social Responsibility. The BLASR is given each year to a young clinician who demonstrates bold leadership in racial equity, environmental, global peace, or other humanitarian efforts.