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I'm Rob Logan, Ph.D., senior staff, U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM).
Here is what's new this week in To Your Health - a consumer health oriented podcast from NLM - that helps you use MedlinePlus to follow up on weekly topics.
Michael E. DeBakey MD's significant contributions to health care, research, and administration as well as the National Library of Medicine were highlighted in recent speeches at NLM.
Shelley McKellar, PhD, The Jason A. Hannah Chair in the History of Medicine, Western University, Canada, and George P. Moon M.D., Professor of Surgery at the Baylor College of Medicine (where Dr. DeBakey worked for more than half century), reinforced Dr. DeBakey's influences were pronounced both inside and outside of the operating room.
McKellar noted DeBakey was an internationally famous surgeon, health care administrator, as well as a medical statesmen, community leader and philanthropist. McKellar explained Dr. DeBakey pioneered many heart operation procedures, such as aneurysm repair and coronary bypass in the 1960s. McKellar added Dr. DeBakey invented the roller pump, which is a key component of heart-lung machines and was a primary researcher in the development of an artificial heart.
Dr. DeBakey, who died at age 100 in 2008, also became President and Chancellor of the Baylor University College of Medicine in Houston. McKellar explained DeBakey built the Baylor College of Medicine into a world-class medical research, training, and practice institution within a remarkably speedy 20-year period.
Despite his extensive clinical and administrative activities, McKellar notes Dr. DeBakey also forged the time to found Houston's DeBakey High School of Health Professions, which prepares minority and low income students for health care careers. McKellar added DeBakey also became a medical statesman, who advocated for medical research, education, and evidence-based practice in the U.S. and many other nations.
In addition, McKellar explained Dr. DeBakey was a pioneer in working with the news media and invited CBS News to film an operation at Baylor Medical Center in 1966. McKellar added that Dr. DeBakey was profiled by Time, Look, Life, and other national magazines during the heart of his memorable career. McKellar explained unlike many of his peers, Dr. DeBakey believed working with the press enhanced the public's health literacy.
In a separate speech, Dr. DeBakey's former clinical colleague, Dr. Moon added that DeBakey was instrumental in founding the contemporary National Library of Medicine. Dr. Moon explained Dr. DeBakey was deeply disappointed by the condition of the building in which the U.S. Army housed the nation's medical library during World War II.
Moon described that DeBakey found the building was rat and mice infested, with leaking ceilings, and drafty windows. This resulted in a constant losing effort to keep books and periodicals in desirable condition. Dr. Moon explained DeBakey tirelessly lobbied Congressional and White House officials in the 1950s and 1960s to move the library outside of the Defense Department — and to construct a suitable, new building to house collections and better serve the medical profession and the public.
Dr. Moon described DeBakey's glee later in the 1960s as the Army's medical library eventually became the National Library of Medicine and was moved to the National Institutes of Health within a cluster of new buildings, specially designed to house medical information and collections. Dr. Moon added Dr. DeBakey chaired and was a member of NLM's Board of Regents and remained active at NLM for the last 40 years of his life.
Both speakers lauded the establishment of NLM's Michael E. DeBakey Fellows, a program that will bring medical historians and scholars to NLM to research the extensive collection of Dr. DeBakey's papers, which are archived here.
The speeches also were the first in an annual lecture devoted to Dr. DeBakey's legacy.
Otherwise, NLM provides a profile of Dr. DeBakey's papers and life within its Profiles in Science Internet-based webpage. To find it, please type 'NLM Profiles In Science' in any web browser, then, click on Dr. DeBakey's photo on the home page.
I should add one of my fondest NLM memories is when I found Dr. DeBakey unexpectedly waiting for me at my desk in spring 2006. He discussed health literacy — and he gave me a decade of ideas to consider in about 20 minutes.
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