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The NLM Michael E. DeBakey Fellowship in the History of Medicine

Michael DeBakey standing in blue scrubs and a white lab coat with his hands on his hips.

Michael E. DeBakey, 1980

Reproduced with permission of Aaron Shikler

The NLM Michael E. DeBakey Fellowship in the History of Medicine supports research in the historical collections of the National Library of Medicine. These collections span ten centuries, comprise a variety of digital and physical formats, and originate from nearly every part of the globe. NLM is especially honored to include in its archival collections the Michael E. DeBakey papers, which encompass the diverse areas in which DeBakey made a lasting impact, such as surgery, medical education, and health care policy, along with the papers of many other luminaries in science and medicine.

Fellowships of up to $10,000 will be awarded to individual applicants, not to institutions, to help offset the costs associated with visiting and using the NLM historical collections during the calendar year following the application and selection. Fellowship awards may not be used for institutional costs or overhead (e.g. clerical costs, supplies, or other attendant project expenses).

The Fellowship was established in 2016 and is supported by a generous gift from The DeBakey Medical Foundation.

About Michael E. DeBakey

Michael E. DeBakey (1908–2008) was a legendary American surgeon, educator, humanitarian, and medical statesman. During a career spanning 75 years, his work transformed cardiovascular surgery, raised medical education standards, and informed national health care policy. He pioneered dozens of operative procedures such as aneurysm repair, coronary bypass, and endarterectomy, which routinely save thousands of lives each year, and performed some of the first heart transplants. His inventions included the roller pump (a key component of heart-lung machines) as well as artificial hearts and ventricular assist pumps. He was a driving force in building Houston’s Baylor University College of Medicine into a premier medical center, where he trained several generations of top surgeons from all over the world. He was a visionary supporter of the NLM, playing a pivotal role in its transformation from the Armed Forces Medical Library in the 1950s, in the establishment of the National Network of Libraries of Medicine in the 1960s, in launching NLM outreach initiatives in the 1990s, and in promoting the digitization of its indexes to pre-1960s journal articles.

How to Apply

The application period for the 2019 Fellowship awards has closed.
Look for the call for applications to the 2020 Fellowship in Spring 2019.

Anyone over the age of eighteen, of any academic discipline and status, is invited to apply during the application period, open each summer. Non-U.S. citizens may apply. No individual can hold the fellowship more than once.

Your application package must include:

  • a brief curriculum vitae of no more than 3 pages;
  • a project abstract;
  • a brief bibliography;
  • a proposed travel budget and itinerary;
  • an academic transcript (required for currently enrolled students only);
  • two letters of support (at least one of which must be from someone familiar with the proposed project);
  • and proof of valid health insurance (copy of insurance card or affidavit signed by the applicant).

For further information about the materials available for historical research at the National Library of Medicine, please explore our collections, use our research tools, or contact the NLM History of Medicine reference desk at NLM Customer Support or by phone at 301-402-8878.

To learn more about the Michael E. DeBakey papers held at the National Library of Medicine, which contain correspondence, administrative records, diaries, transcripts, publications, speeches, conference and awards material, subject files, photographs, and audiovisual media, consult the finding aid or contact the NLM History of Medicine reference desk at NLM Customer Support or by phone at 301-402-8878.


During the calendar year following their selection, Fellows are expected to visit the National Library of Medicine to undertake their historical research projects onsite in the History of Medicine Division Reading Room.

In addition, NLM Michael E. DeBakey Fellows are required to:

  • consult with NLM staff on existing finding aids and related resources, to improve the Library’s knowledge of the collections, so this knowledge can be better shared;
  • meet the expectations of the NIH public access policy for publicly supported work, and acknowledge the NLM Michael E. DeBakey Fellowship in the History of Medicine in any resulting scholarly works;
  • be available to the NLM Office of Communications & Public Liaison (OCPL) and the History of Medicine Division for interviews;
  • author at least one guest blog post for Circulating Now based on their research.

Selected fellows may be invited to return to the Library to present an annual NLM Michael E. DeBakey Lecture in the History of Medicine, as part of the History of Medicine Division’s existing lecture series.

NLM Michael E. DeBakey Fellows in the History of Medicine

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