Merel H. Harmel Oral History Interviews, 1995-2004

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No release form for the May 26, 2004 interview. For further information consult with the Medical Center Archivist.
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Summary

Creator:
Harmel, Merel H.
Abstract:
Dr. Merel H. Harmel, MD, professor emeritus and founding chair of the Duke University School of Medicine Department of Anesthesiology (1971-1983) was a pioneer in the practice, safety, and teaching of anesthesiology. Along with founding the Department of Anesthesiology ay Duke, he also founded anesthesiology departments at the State University of New York, Downstate Medical Center and the University of Chicago. This collection contains 2 oral history interviews conducted on April 24, 1995 by Dr. James Gifford and May 26, 2004 by Jessica Roseberry. In the 1995 interview, which is part of the Dr. David Sabiston Oral History Project, Harmel discusses his career, the development of his research interests, and his interaction his department (the Department of Anesthesiology) with Sabiston and the Department of Surgery at Duke. In the 2004 interview, Harmel discusses his career, becoming the first chair of the Department of Anesthesiology, and other administrative aspects of how a division becomes a department and how it operates within an established medical center.
Extent:
2 Interviews (2 transcripts, 3 audiocassette tapes)
Collection ID:
OH.HARMELM

Background

Scope and content:

Includes 2 oral history interviews with Dr. Merel H. Harmel conducted on April 24, 1995 by Dr. James Gifford and May 26, 2004 by Jessica Roseberry.

In the April 24, 1995 interview, which is included in the Dr. David Sabiston Oral History Project, Harmel discusses his career, the development of his research interests, and his interaction his department (the Department of Anesthesiology) with Sabiston and the Department of Surgery at Duke.

In the May 26, 2004 interview, Harmel discusses his career, becoming the first chair of the Department of Anesthesiology, and the administrative aspects of how a division becomes a department and how it operates within an established medical center.

Biographical / historical:

In 1945, Dr. Merel H. Harmel, MD, became the first anesthesiology resident at Johns Hopkins. At the recommendation of his mentor, Dr. Austin Lamont, MD, Harmel participated in the first Blalock-Taussig shunt procedure-an operation developed to shunt blood to the lungs in children with tetralogy of Fallot, also known as "blue babies". Taking place in the eleventh month of his residency, Harmel acted as the anesthesiologist for the procedure, which was pioneered by surgeon Dr. Alfred Blalock, MD, cardiologist Dr. Helen Taussig, MD, and assistant Vivien Thomas.

Following his time at Johns Hopkins and later at the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Harmel went on to found the first anesthesia departments at State University of New York, Downstate Medical Center in 1952 and the University of Chicago in1968. In 1971, Dr. Harmel became the founding Chair of the new Department of Anesthesiology at Duke, serving as Chair until 1983. At that time there were only six faculty members, no residency program, and little academic enterprise.

Harmel was a pioneer in the practice, safety, and teaching of anesthesiology. During his time at Duke, Harmel led the development of the world's first electronic vital signs-monitoring system. Originally known as Duke Automatic Monitoring Equipment (DAME), the equipment was installed in Duke University Hospital when it was built in 1980. Similar equipment is now standard in all U.S. operating rooms. Harmel brought international prominence to Duke's Department of Anesthesiology and was a strong advocate for medical student and resident education.

Harmel died on February 19, 2015 of kidney cancer in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Acquisition information:
No documented accession number (transferred by James Gifford, April 1995), Accession A2004.115 (transferred by Jessica Roseberry, May 2004)
Processing information:

Processed by Archives staff: 1995; updated by Archives staff: 2004; updated by Lucy Waldrop April 2023.

Arrangement:
Organized into the following series: Interview, April 24, 1995; Interview May 26, 2004.

Contents

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Restrictions:

No release form for the May 26, 2004 interview. For further information consult with the Medical Center Archivist.

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], Merel H. Harmel Oral History Interview, Duke University Medical Center Archives.