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The 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 including but not limited to 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. Overall, the NLM collections span ten centuries, encompass variety of digital and physical formats, and originate from nearly every part of the globe.

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 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, 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.

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.

Your application package must include:

  • a project abstract;
  • a brief bibliography;
  • a proposed travel budget;
  • 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.

For further information about the materials available for historical research at the National Library of Medicine, please visit, 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. While they are welcome to study any portion of the NLM collections, they are especially encouraged to explore and use the Michael E. DeBakey papers, which reflect the vast range of subjects from Michael E. DeBakey’s professional career—from surgery to health care policy, medical libraries and expanding access to medical information, medical technology to medical ethics, military medicine to veteran health, humanitarianism to international diplomacy in the medical arena. The Library’s Michael E. DeBakey papers contain correspondence, administrative records, diaries, transcripts, publications, speeches, conference and awards material, subject files, photographs, and audiovisual media, which reflect the vast expanse of Dr. DeBakey’s life, achievements, and interests as a world-renowned medical statesman, innovator, and champion of humanitarianism and life-long learning.

In addition to undertaking research projects, 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

2018 DeBakey Fellows

Divyansh Agarwal, MS
Research Project: The DeBakey Method for Today's Aspiring Surgeon-Scientist
Read Letters Shed Light on Huey Long’s Murder Mystery on Circulating Now

Susan Crawford, PhD
Research Project: Biomedical Communication: The Evolution of a Paradigm

Alyssa F. Gabay
Research Project: Understanding Dr. DeBakey’s Development and Implementation of His Aneurysm Repair Methods and External Ventricular Assist Devices

Sanders Marble, PhD
Research Project: Uncovering Michael DeBakey’s War Years

2017 DeBakey Fellows

Justin Barr, MD, PhD
Research Project: Michael E. DeBakey and his Seminal Role in the Creation, Adoption, and Application of Arterial Repair
Read Michael DeBakey and the Education of American Surgeons on Circulating Now

Kurt Dasse, PhD
Research Project: Inside the Creative Mind of Dr. Michael E. DeBakey and His Everlasting Impact on Medical Technology
Read Inside the Creative Mind of Dr. Michael E. DeBakey on Circulating Now

Craig A. Miller, MD
Research Project: A Comprehensive Biography of Michael E. DeBakey
Read A Time for All Things: Michael E. DeBakey—The Tulane Years on Circulating Now

Heidi Morefield, MSc
Research Project: Making Technology Appropriate: Health, Development, and Modernization in the Global Cold War
Read Tinkering with Profitability: DeBakey and the Affordable Blood Transfusion Instrument on Circulating Now

Andrew Simpson, PhD
Research Project: Making the Medical Metropolis: Health Care and the Post-Industrial Transformation of Pittsburgh and Houston
Read The Power of a Name: Michael DeBakey ad the Changing Business of American Medicine on Circulating Now