W. Gerald Austen Oral History Interview, September 9, 2019

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Summary

Creator:
Austen, W. Gerald (William Gerald), 1930- and Duke University. Medical Center. Department of Surgery.
Abstract:
Dr. W. Gerald Austen, MD, a pioneer in the field of cardiac surgery, was the chief of the Surgical Services at Massachusetts General Hospital for 29 years, as well as a friend and colleague of Dr. David C. Sabiston. This collection contains 1 oral history interview conducted on September 9, 2019 by Emily Stewart and is part of the Dr. David Sabiston Oral History Project. In the interview, Austen discusses his early life and education; his work at Massachusetts General Hospital; Dr. David and Agnes Sabiston, including first meeting David Sabiston and his first stroke; his wife, Patty Austen; the history of open heart surgery; and the Duke Department of Surgery.
Extent:
1 Interview (1 transcript) and 9.33 MB
Collection ID:
OH.AUSTENW

Background

Scope and content:

Includes 1 oral history interview with Dr. W. Gerald Austen conducted on September 9, 2019 by Emily Stewart as part of the Dr. David Sabiston Oral History Project.
In the September 9, 2019 interview, Austen discusses his early life and education; his work at Massachusetts General Hospital; Dr. David and Agnes Sabiston, including first meeting David Sabiston and his first stroke; his wife, Patty Austen; the history of open heart surgery; and the Duke Department of Surgery.

Biographical / historical:

Dr. W. Gerald Austen, MD, was born in Akron, Ohio, in 1930. He graduated from MIT in 1951 with a major in engineering and then attended Harvard Medical School, graduating in 1955. After graduation, he completed his residency at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) where, as a resident, built the first heart-lung machine for use in open heart surgery at MGH. After residency, he worked at the National Institute of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland, from 1961 to 1962. Upon returning to MGH, Austen was appointed the first chief of Cardiovascular Surgical Research. Three years later, at the age of 36, he became a full professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School, and at age 39, he was appointed chief of the Surgical Services, a position he held for 29 years. At the time of Austen's retirement as chief of the Surgical Services at the MGH, his many accomplishments were recognized by the creation of the W. Gerald Austen Chair In Surgery at Harvard Medical School and the MGH.
Austen also founded Partners HealthCare System, as well as the Mass General Physicians Organization of which he was chairman and chief executive officer from 1992 to 2000.
Austen is considered a pioneer in the field of cardiac surgery, authoring 421 original articles, 79 chapters and reviews, and eight books. He contributed greatly to the improved care of the cardiac surgical patient and was a pioneer in the surgical treatment of many of the complications of coronary artery disease. Austen was a leader in the development of circulatory support systems to aid the failing heart and most particularly, with Dr. Mortimer Buckley, the development and clinical application of the intra-aortic balloon pump.
Austen has been a member of the MIT Corporation (Board of Trustees) since 1972 and a life member since 1982. He also has served on the board of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation from 1986 until 2010, serving as its Chairman from 1996 until his retirement in March of 2010. He was elected a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Austen has served as president of numerous surgical societies, including the American College of Surgeons, the American Surgical Association, the American Heart Association and the American Association for Thoracic Surgery. In 2009, the Knight Foundation announced that the BioInnovation Institute in Akron, Ohio, Austen's hometown, was to be named for Austen and his wife, Patricia. In 2017, Akron University created the W. Gerald Austen, M.D. Professorship Chair in Polymer Science and Poymer Engineering, in Austen's honor. In 2018, he received The Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award.

Acquisition information:
Accession A2019.104 (transferred by Mary-Russell Roberson, December 2019)
Processing information:

Processed by Lucy Waldrop: December 2019

Arrangement:
Organized into the following series: Interview, September 9, 2019.
Rules or conventions:
DACS

Contents

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Restrictions:

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Terms of access:

Copyright for Official University records is held by Duke University; all other copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

Preferred citation:

[Identification of item], W. Gerald Austen Oral History Interview, Duke University Medical Center Archives.