Bernard Lown (1921 – 2021)

Dr. Bernard Lown, the Harvard cardiologist who invented the first effective heart defibrillator and was one of a group of co-founders of an international organization that won the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize for its campaign against nuclear war, died on on February 16, 2021 at his home in Chestnut Hill, Mass. He was 99.

If you are not familiar with Dr. Lown, the NY Times Obituary is a good place to begin.

His book, “The Lost Art of Healing” (1996) was inspirational reading for me. Here are my notes if anyone wants to see them.

Here are some excerpts from the Preface:

Medicine’s profound crisis, I believe, is only partially related to ballooning costs, for the problem is far deeper than economics. In my view, the basic reason is that medicine has lost its way, if not its soul. An unwritten covenant between doctor and patient, hallowed over several millennia, is being broken.

My philosophic outlook has been shaped by many elements: foreign birth, a Jewish heritage with a rabbinic tradition, a love of books, and above all, a continuing romance with medicine. Maimonides prayed, “May I never forget that the patient is a fellow creature in pain. May I never consider him merely a vessel of disease.”

All physicians, students, and individuals interested in humane medicine should at least know a bit about Dr. Lown.

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About David Elpern

The Online Journal of Community and Person-Centered Dermatology (OJCPCD) is a free, full text, open-access, online publication that addresses all aspects of skin disease that concern patients, their families, and practitioners. ​It was founded in 2012 by Dr. David J. Elpern, M.D. in Williamstown, MA. with technical help from Inez Tan.

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