Photo courtesy Lown Institute
Cardiologist Dr. Bernard Lown invented the modern, direct-current defibrillator after puzzling over the failure of an early, alternate-current defibrillator to save one of his patients. His invention has since become a life-saving device worldwide. He also invented the cardioverter, which corrects irregular heart rhythms, and pioneered the use of Lidocaine to control heartbeat disturbances. In addition to his research on the heart, Dr. Lown is the author of several books, including The Lost Art of Healing, which advocates compassion in medicine and repairing the trust between doctors and patients. He has worked as an activist for world peace and the abolition of nuclear weapons, co-founding organizations such as Physicians for Social Responsibility and International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War. On behalf of the latter, he accepted the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985.