- 1933-2003 (inclusive),
- Majority of material found within 1960-1995 .
- Lown, B. (Bernard) (Person)
Conditions Governing Access
Conditions Governing Use
63.3 cubic feet ( (58 records center cartons, 11 letter size document boxes, 2 legal size document boxes, 3 half letter size document boxes, 1 half legal size document box, 1 flat document box, 1 oversize flat document box, and 2 oversize flat file folders))
21.2 cubic feet (21 records center cartons and 1 manuscript box (unprocessed))
The Bernard Lown papers consist of six series: Series I. IPPNW Records; Series II. Subject Files; Series III. Professional Organizations Records; Series IV. Professional Writings; Series V. Personal Records and Correspondence; Series VI. Military Records. Oversized items are housed in boxes 36, 48, 67, 68, 69, and in flat file drawer FF007. Two boxes of miscellaneous records were integrated throughout the collection.
Materials are entirely in English.
Bernard Lown, born Bernard Latz in Utena, Lithuania on June 7, 1921. Lown and his family immigrated to the United States when he was thirteen, eventually settling in Lewiston, Maine. Lown graduated summa cum laude in 1942 from the University of Maine, Orono, and from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 1945. He was an Assistant in Pathology at Yale Medical School before completing his Internship at Jewish Hospital (1947-1948) and residency at Montefiore Hospital (1948-1950), both in New York City. While at Montefiore, Lown researched potassium loss during diuresis. His findings caught the attention of Samuel A. Levine, Physician (Cardiology) at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital (PBBH), who offered Lown the Cardiology Fellowship. Lown moved to Harvard Medical School and PBBH in 1950, later serving also as Director of the Samuel A. Levine Cardiovascular Research Center, PBBH from1956-1958. Lown’s career was briefly interrupted by military service and his employment was affected by blacklisting prior to his moving to the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), Department of Nutrition to begin working with Frederick J. Stare in experimental cardiology. From 1965-1974 he was Director of the Samuel A. Levine Coronary Care Unit at the now Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and from 1961-1991, Director of the Cardiovascular Research Lab, Dept. of Nutrition. At HSPH Lown moved up the ranks in several appointments to Professor of Cardiology in 1974, becoming Emeritus upon his retirement in 1991. In addition to his administrative, teaching and research responsibilities, Lown was a practicing physician at PBBH then Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and in private practice at the Lown Cardiovascular Center. Lown also served as Consultant in Cardiology for several Boston area hospitals.
During his almost fifty years practicing medicine and conducting research on diseases of the heart, Lown has pioneered many important advances in coronary care, treatments and improving patient outcomes. Lown evaluated the therapeutic use of immobility, then standard patient care. The results of this study became one of many critical care management changes he introduced. Current Concepts in Digitalis Therapy (1954) is still considered the most definitive resource on the topic. In animal studies, Lown demonstrated that the effects of widely used alternating current shock therapy were injurious to the heart. Searching for a substitute treatment method, he discovered direct current shock could normalize heart rhythm. Collaborating with American Optical Company engineers, Lown invented the technology for cardioversion. After presenting a paper based on clinical trials at the American Society for Clinical Investigation in 1962, cardioversion became the world-wide standard for treating acute patients with irregular heart rhythms. In 1965 Lown introduced the use of the drug lidocaine to prevent fatal cardiac electrical failure in heart attack victims. He helped launch the new discipline of community cardiology by collaborating with the Boston YMCA to develop rehabilitative exercise programs and the Town of Brookline to develop preventive nutrition education programs. Other research interests include Chagas disease, prevalent in Bahia, Brazil and integrated functions of the higher nervous system and the heart.
Lown’s interest in international cooperation and humanitarian and peace activism surfaced early with leadership roles in student groups. For the Association of Internes and Medical Students (AIMS), Lown helped to organize shipments of equipment and supplies to medical students in countries at war. Under Lown’s leadership, founding members of PSR evaluated the information upon which the US government based its policy for community response to nuclear attack and determined their data was erroneous, publishing their findings to the medical community through the New England Journal of Medicine in 1961. PSR then launched a media campaign to educate the general public about the medical dangers of nuclear weapons as well as gain their influence to effect changes in government nuclear weapons policy. Lown founded and presided over the USA-China Physicians Friendship Association, and established cooperative research programs in cardiology with Cuba, Japan and the USSR. Through research with USSR cardiologists, Lown befriended Evgeni Chazov. Together they founded International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War with the belief that working cooperatively would improve the likelihood of influencing governments to cease nuclear testing and weapons build up. SATELLIFE, the first non-profit organization in the world to use satellite technology for sharing public health, medical and environmental information with developing countries, was founded by Lown to help professionals in remote and war-torn regions of South Asia, Africa and South America. The Lown Cardiovascular Research Foundation, founded by Lown in 1973, established the website ProCOR in 1997, the first international internet forum for supporting educational programs of preventive cardiology for both health professionals and the public. This led to the establishment of national groups called “AmiCOR’s” in India, Brazil and other countries. To promote patient rights against the policies of for-profit HMO’s, Lown formed the Ad Hoc Committee to Defend Health Care in 1997.
Lown is the author of hundreds of articles and several monographs, most recently Prescription for Survival: A Doctor’s Journey to End Nuclear Madness (2008). He is the recipient of honorary degrees from universities around the world, and numerous awards including the first Cardinal Medeiros Peace Award. Dr. Lown and his wife Louise were married in 1946. They have three children and five grandchildren.
Series and Subseries in the Collection
- I. International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War Records, 1960-2002, undated
- ___ Subseries A. International Correspondence, 1960-1997, undated
- ___ Subseries B. Alphabetical Correspondence, 1964-1996, undated
- ___ Subseries C. International Council Records, 1981-2002
- ___ Subseries D. Distinguished Advisory Council Records, 1994-1996
- ___Subseries E. Executive Committee Records, 1968-2002, undated
- ______ Sub-Subseries 1. Annual Reports and Directories, 1988-1992
- ______Sub-Subseries 2. Co-President Records, 1968-2002, undated
- _________ Sub-Sub-Subseries i. Alphabetical Correspondence – International, 1979-2002
- _________ Sub-Sub-Subseries ii. Alphabetical Correspondence – Officers and Others, 1982-1994
- _________ Sub-Sub-Subseries iii. Chronological Correspondence, 1979-1997
- _________ Sub-Sub-Subseries iv. Chronological Administrative Files, 1986-1995
- _________ Sub-Sub-Subseries v. Issues and Projects Files, 1980-2001,undated
- _________ Sub-Sub-Subseries vi. Subject Resource Files, 1968-1991, undated
- ______ Sub-Subseries 3. Secretary Records, 1979-1994
- ______ Sub-Subseries 4. Executive Director Records, 1984-1992
- ______ Sub-Subseries 5. Meeting Records, 1985-1995
- ______ Sub-Subseries 6. Financial Records, 1981-1992
- ___ Subseries F. Public Affairs Records, 1962-2001, undated
- ___ Subseries G. Publications Records, 1981-2001, undated
- ___ Subseries H. Affiliates Records, 1962-2001, undated
- II. Subject Files, 1946-2003, undated
- III. Professional Organizations Records, 1942-2003
- ___ Subseries A. SATELLIFE Records, 1982-2003
- ___ Subseries B: Ad Hoc Committee to Defend Health Care Records, 1997-2001
- ___ Subseries C. ProCOR Records, 1996-2003
- ___Subseries D. Lown Cardiovascular Center and Lown Cardiovascular Research Foundation Records, 1956-2003
- ______ Alphabetical Correspondence, 1965-1992
- ______ Corporate Correspondence, 1960-1983
- ______ Administrative Records, 1956-2003
- ___ Subseries E. Student Organizations Records, 1942-1954
- IV.U.S.-U.S.S.R. Problem Area 5 Records, 1972-1979
- V. Professional Writings, 1948-2003, undated
- VI. Personal Records and Correspondence, 1933-2003, undated
- VII. Military Records, 1946-1954
Immediate Source of Acquisition
- Accession number 2002-054. Bernard Lown 29 April 2002
- Accession number 2002-063. Bernard Lown June 2002.
- Accession number 2003-053. Bernard Lown January 2003.
- Accession number 2004-019. Bernard Lown 29 September 2003.
- Accession number 2010-070. Bernard Lown 2010.
- Accession number 2011-010. Bernard Lown 2011.
Processing staff in the Center for the History of Medicine refoldered, rehoused, arranged, described, and prepared a finding aid for the Bernard Lown papers. The Papers have gone through two iterations of processing. With the exception of most of Series I, initial processing remains unchanged. Subsequent processing reflects the organization and arrangement of records as maintained by Lown. The records of some series can also be found in other series. These instances have been noted in the series and subseries descriptions.
- Angina pectoris.
- Anti-Arrhythmia Agents
- Arms race--History--20th century.
- Atrial fibrillation.
- Cardiac arrest--Treatment.
- Chagas’ disease.
- Coronary care units.
- Death, Sudden, Cardiac
- Heart--Diseases--Diet therapy.
- Lown, B. (Bernard)
- Medical students.
- Myocardial infarction.
- Nobel Prize winners--United States.
- Nuclear warfare--Congresses.
- Nuclear warfare--Environmental aspects.
- Nuclear warfare--Health aspects.
- Nuclear warfare--Prevention.
- Patient advocacy.
- Physician and patient.
- Physician-Patient Relations
- Stress (Psychology)--Health aspects--Research.
- Stress, Psychological
- Ventricular fibrillation.
- Ventricular tachycardia.
- Lown, B. (Bernard). Papers, 1933-2003 (inclusive), 1960-1995 (bulk): Finding Aid.
- Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine. Center for the History of Medicine.
- EAD ID