The 1960s Medicine and Health: Headline Makers

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The 1960s Medicine and Health: Headline Makers

Denton A. Cooley
Irving S. Cooper
Michael E. DeBakey
Harry F. Harlow
Frances Oldham Kelsey
Luther L. Terry

Denton A. Cooley (1920–) During the 1960s, Denton A. Cooley became one of the world's primary practitioners of open-heart surgery. Previously, he had worked with Michael DeBakey on the development of procedures to remove aortic aneurysms (sacs formed on the walls of arteries), and had completed pioneering work in the area of repairing congenital heart defects. In 1968, Cooley performed the world's second person-to-person heart-transplant operation. The following year, he earned his greatest fame by performing the first complete artificial heart transplant. By 1972, Cooley had performed more than ten thousand open-heart operations.

Irving S. Cooper (1922–1985) During the early 1960s, Irving S. Cooper began employing a technique he helped perfect, cryosurgery (surgery by freezing), to treat patients afflicted with Parkinson's disease, a neurological disorder. Cryosurgery is carried out by using a probe that has been chilled by liquid nitrogen to nearly 400 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. The probe kills the diseased tissue by freezing it, resulting in an improvement in the patient's muscular control. In 1973, Cooper perfected another medical innovation: a brain implant whose electric impulses assisted patients suffering from epileptic seizures, spasms caused by cerebral palsy, and poststroke paralysis.

Michael E. DeBakey (1908–) Michael E. DeBakey was one of the era's pioneering cardiovascular researchers and surgeons. He was a primary leader in the development of the artificial heart. As early as 1965, he forecast the implementation of permanent artificial hearts. Among DeBakey's earlier accomplishments were the development of a pump that was a precursor of the heart-lung machines later employed during open-heart surgery, and the implementation of Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (M.A.S.H.) units that performed medical procedures close to battlefronts during World War II (1939–45). In 1936, he pointed out the link between smoking and lung cancer.

Harry F. Harlow (1905–1981) By studying the social activities of monkeys, psychologist Harry F. Harlow provided new understanding of human behavior and development. His experiments with newborn rhesus monkeys (which are more mature at birth than human beings) determined they required nursing, contact, and cuddling from their mothers. Additionally, they needed to play and socialize with other monkeys. Harlow's findings altered then-current thinking about animal development and learning and influenced the understanding of the developmental phases of infancy and childhood in human beings, as well.

Frances Oldham Kelsey (1914–) In 1960, the Richardson-Merrill pharmaceutical company submitted an application to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to market thalidomide under the brand name Kevadon. Frances Oldham Kelsey, a newly hired FDA medical reviewer, was asked to evaluate the application. Richardson-Merrill pressured Kelsey for quick approval since thalidomide already was being used in other countries. Kelsey repeatedly requested additional data on the drug, forestalling approval. When thalidomide was acknowledged to cause birth defects, Kelsey emerged as a heroine. Her careful analysis and refusal to cave in to drug industry pressure forever changed the way drugs are evaluated and sanctioned for use in the United States.

Luther L. Terry (1911–1985) Luther L. Terry is best remembered as the U.S. Surgeon General who presided over the committee whose findings linked cigarette smoking to poor health. These conclusions directly affected Terry. Before the study began, the surgeon general was himself a cigarette smoker. By its conclusion, he had switched to a pipe (which was considered far less hazardous). After his term concluded in 1965, Terry was at the forefront of a campaign to ban cigarette advertising on television and radio, which succeeded in the early 1970s. He also crusaded for the control of smoking in the workplace.

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The 1960s Medicine and Health: Headline Makers

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The 1960s Medicine and Health: Headline Makers