Campus & Community

HSPH honors Bernard Lown

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Scholarship program, professorship established

A professorship and scholarship program to honor the career of Bernard Lown in advancing public health is being established at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH). School officials made the announcement Sept. 10.

A professor of cardiology emeritus at HSPH, Lown is recognized for his groundbreaking work on the causes and treatment of heart disease and cardiac arrhythmias and the development of the direct current (DC) defibrillator that has become a lifesaving device worldwide. He is also world-renowned for his dedication to the prevention of nuclear war. In 1960, during the tensions of the Cold War, he was one of the founders of Physicians for Social Responsibility, and in 1980, he co-founded International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War. He and a Russian colleague received the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the organization in 1985.

Lown was honored at the Lown Cardiovascular Foundation gala on Sept. 13 at the Seaport Hotel in Boston.

The Bernard Lown Fund in Cardiovascular Health at HSPH will support the Bernard Lown Cardiovascular Scholars Program, which will train qualified midcareer clinicians, scientists, nurses, and other health practitioners in public health strategies related to the prevention of cardiovascular disease in the developing world. Participants in the Scholars Program will be degree candidates in the master of public health program or other degree programs at the School. In most circumstances, they will be midcareer physicians working in the developing world. They will be known as Lown Scholars. As part of the program, Lown Scholars may also be brought back to Harvard periodically for short-term stays of one week to several months. The goal will be to create an international community of Lown Scholars who will continue to interact around issues of cardiovascular health, particularly in the developing world.

The Bernard Lown Fund in Cardiovascular Health will also support a professorship at HSPH involved in research and teaching focused on the prevention of cardiovascular disease in the developing world. The individual chosen to be the Lown Professor may be a cardiologist, epidemiologist, biological scientist, or social scientist representing a range of appropriate disciplines and experience. The fund will also support international conferences devoted to the topic of cardiovascular prevention.

HSPH Dean Barry Bloom stated: “Dr. Lown has been enormously generous to the Harvard School of Public Health as a researcher, scholar, and friend, and [he has been] an inspirational role model for me. His vision to bring young physicians and scholars from developing countries to learn and carry out research in preventing cardiovascular disease at our School under the tutelage of outstanding professors, including one that we can honor him with, is a prescient contribution to address the coming epidemic of cardiovascular disease in the developing world. We are enormously grateful for the many gifts he has given us and the world.”

“Bernard Lown has been a visionary in recognizing the importance of health in forging bridges and understanding among scientists and people around the world. We welcome the establishment of the Bernard Lown Fund as an ideal realization of the innovative global vision of one of the world’s great physicians and humanitarians,” said HSPH Instructor in Medicine Vikas Saini, president of the Lown Cardiovascular Research Foundation (CRF).

“It is doubly meaningful given the origins of the fund in the development of the defibrillator, a high-technology device that changed the practice of medicine, which are now being applied to a global vision of health. Far ahead of his time, Dr. Lown has long recognized that true peace in the world will only be achieved when the needs and aspirations of people in the developing world are taken into account. It is therefore most appropriate that the fund will now be used to teach the teachers necessary to combat the burgeoning global epidemic of cardiovascular disease,” Saini added. “The Lown CRF is pleased that the mission of the Lown Scholars Program and the Lown Professorship is fundamentally aligned with ours, and we look forward to many collaborative efforts in the future to sustain Dr. Lown’s unique historic legacy.”