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National Library of Medicine Announces the Addition of the Michael E. DeBakey Papers to Profiles in Science

Michael DeBakey in surgical scrubs, operating room in background

Michael DeBakey at Methodist Hospital, 1978
Courtesy the Baylor College of Medicine Archives

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. Born to Lebanese immigrants in Lake Charles, Louisiana, DeBakey was inspired to study medicine by physicians who visited his father’s pharmacy. He earned his MD from Tulane University in 1932 and joined the Tulane faculty after his internship and two years of postgraduate work in Europe. During World War II, he served with the Surgical Consultants to the Army Surgeon General, where he helped develop the first MASH units. DeBakey 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. Beginning in 1948, 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.

Now available from the National Library of Medicine is an extensive selection from the papers of Dr. DeBakey on Profiles in Science®, an extensive digital project of the Library that provides online access to archival collections of twentieth-century leaders in science, medicine, and public health.

The Michael E. DeBakey Papers Profiles in Science site features correspondence, published articles, travel diaries, interviews, and photographs from the Michael DeBakey Papers held by the National Library of Medicine. Visitors to Profiles in Science can view photos from DeBakey’s childhood and early career, correspondence with surgical colleagues during World War II, and the journal he kept on a trip to Russia to supervise President Boris Yeltsin’s bypass surgery in 1996. An in-depth historical narrative leads to a wide range of primary source materials that provide a window into Michael DeBakey's life and major contributions to vascular surgery, medical education, and health care policy. Visitors may also search and browse the collection, consult a brief chronology of DeBakey’s life, a glossary of terms specific to the collection, and a page of further readings.

Since its founding in 1836, the National Library of Medicine https://www.nlm.nih.gov has played a pivotal role in translating biomedical research into practice and is a leader in information innovation. NLM is the world's largest medical library, and millions of scientists, health professionals and the public around the world use NLM services every day.

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