Dr. Eugene Braunwald: Boston, USA
Eugene Braunwald, M.D. is the Distinguished Hersey Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Faculty Dean and Chief Academic Officer of the Partners HealthCare system founded by the Brigham and Women’s and Massachusetts General Hospitals. The International Academy of Cardiovascular Sciences has bestowed on Dr. Braunwald the Academy’s Medal of Merit for lifetime achievements.
Dr. Braunwald was born in Vienna Austria on August 15, 1929. He and his family fled Austria after the Nazi occupation and came to the U.S. in November 1939. Dr. Braunwald received his medical training at New York University and completed his Medical Residency at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. In 1955 he became a Clinical Associate in the (then) National Heart Institute. Subsequently, he served as the first Chief of the Cardiology Branch and then as Clinical Director of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. After he left the intra- mural program, Dr. Braunwald became the founding Chairman of the Department of Medicine at the University of California, San Diego. From 1972 to 1996 he was Chairman of the Department of Medicine at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Dr. Braunwald is the only cardiolo- gist who is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. He has served as President of the American Society for Clinical Investigation and the Association of Professors of Medicine.
Dr. Braunwald has received numerous honors and awards including the Wiggers and Bowditch Wards of the American Physiological Society, the Abel Award of the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, the Research Achievement, and Herrick Awards of the American Heart Association, the Distinguished Scientist Award of the American College of Cardiology, and the Kober medal of the Association of American Physicians. He is the recipient of nine honorary degrees from distinguished universities throughout the world. In 1996, Harvard University created the Eugene Braunwald Professorship in Medicine as a permanently endowed chair. In 1999, the American Heart Association created the Eugene Braunwald Academic Mentorship Award as a permanent annual award. In 2000, the living Nobel Prize winners in medicine voted Dr. Braunwald as “the person who has contributed the most to cardiology in recent years”. During the International Society for Heart Research
XVII World Congress in Winnipeg, Canada in July 2001, Dr. Braunwald was presented with the St. Boniface Hospital and Research Foundation International Award. In 2002, the Brigham and Women’s Hospital dedicated a research facility as the “Eugene Braunwald Research Center”.
Dr. Braunwald is the author of more than 1100 publications and an editor of Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine, (Editor-in-Chief of the 11th Edition and the current 15th Edition) and the founding editor/author of Heart Disease, now in its 6th Edition. These two books are the leading texts in internal medicine and cardiology respectively. Dr. Braunwald has been Chairman of the TIMI trials since 1984 and he has led the SAVE and CARE trials.
Dr. Braunwald’s research has illuminated many aspects of cardiology. He has been a major force in cardiovascular research continuously for almost five decades and remains so. His earliest work in the 1950’s dealt with the hemodynamics of valvular heart disease. In studies with Stanley Sarnoff at the NIH, Braunwald characterized the hemodynamic determinants of myocardial oxygen consumption and coronary blood flow, identifying the tension time index as a major determinant of myocardial oxygen consumption. He and John Ross then clarified the importance of Starling’s Law of the heart as a major determinant of ventricular performance in man; and with Andrew Morrow he made seminal contributions to the description of, and then named, idiopathic hypertrophic subaortic stenosis, a relatively common form of heart disease.
Braunwald and his colleagues developed techniques for characteriz- ing myocardial force-velocity relations in intact unanesthetized man. Together with Ross and Sonnenblick, Braunwald identified velocity of cardiac contraction as a major determinant of myocardial oxygen con- sumption. He and Steven Epstein performed some of the earliest studies on beta-adrenergic receptor blocking drugs and with Charles Chidsey described an important biochemical defect in heart failure the depletion of norepinephrine in the hearts of patients with this condition.
Dr. Braunwald demonstrated, first in experimental animals and then in patients, that limitation of infarct size (by improving the balance between the heart’s supply of and demand for oxygen) can improve the outcome of patients with this common condition. This led to widely used methods of treatment of myocardial infarction such as reperfusion therapy (to improve oxygen supply) and beta adrenergic receptor block ade (to reduce oxygen demand). He then showed in patients who had survived a heart attack that survival can be improved further by pre- venting remodeling of the left ventricle using an angiotensin convert- ing enzyme inhibitor. Most recently, he showed that clinical outcome in victims of infarction with average cholesterol levels can be improved with cholesterol reduction. Thus, taken together, Dr. Braunwald’s major scientific contributions are central to the dramatic worldwide improve- ment in the outcome of patients suffering myocardial infarction.