Bernard Lown, professor emeritus at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the British Medical Journal (BMJ) Group Improving Health Awards on May 23, 2012 in London. The BMJ Group Awards recognize excellence in health care across the globe. Lown did not attend the ceremony but sent a video message that was played there.
Lown is known for his groundbreaking work on the causes and treatment of heart disease and cardiac arrhythmias. He developed the direct current (DC) defibrillator, which has become a lifesaving device worldwide. He also is 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.
For four decades, Lown brought young physicians and scholars from developing countries to HSPH to learn how to prevent cardiovascular disease and to conduct research under the direction of outstanding professors. These activities continue at the School through the Bernard Lown Scholars In Cardiovascular Health Program and the Lown Visiting Professorship in Cardiovascular Health, currently held by Srinath Reddy.
“We are delighted to have this opportunity to honor Dr. Lown for an extraordinary long and fruitful life, in which he has acted in many different capacities with exceptional impact on individual and global health: as a physician, an inventor, an international campaigner for world peace and nuclear disarmament, and an advocate for avoiding avoidable medical treatment,” said Fiona Godlee, BMJ editor-in-chief, in a press release.
“Waging peace, saving lives” (Harvard Public Health Review feature, 2011)
New Scholarship Program and Professorship To Honor Dr. Bernard Lown (HSPH Press Release)