Supported by 58 years of professional experience in medicine and academia, Dr. W. Gerald Austen is a venerated figure in his profession. Serving as the Edward D. Churchill
distinguished professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School since 2011, he formerly served the medical school as the Edward D. Churchill professor of surgery from 1974 to 2011, professor of surgery from 1966 to 1974, and associate professor of surgery from 1965 to 1966. During this time, Dr. Austen held several medical appointments at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) beginning in 1963, first as the chief of the Cardiovascular Research Unit for six years, during which time he led the development of modern heart surgery at the MGH, then as Chief of Surgical Services for the following 29 years. Alongside this prestigious appointment, he was also surgeon-in-chief from 1989 until attaining emeritus status in 1997. He was an MGH trustee from 1994 to 1999 and has continued as an honorary trustee to the present. Since 1980, he has been co-chair of the Philanthropy Program at the hospital. He served as the founding CEO and President of the Mass General Physicians Organization from 1994 to 1999 and continues as Chairman Emeritus and honorary trustee. He was a Founding Trustee of Partners Healthcare System.
To prepare for his career, Dr. Austen pursued formal education at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, receiving a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering in 1951. He then earned a Doctor of Medicine from Harvard Medical School in 1955 and went on to complete an internship and residency in general surgery and cardiothoracic surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital. Dr. Austen has notably contributed 421 original articles to professional journals and authored several medical textbooks during his career. Likewise, he has contributed his time and expertise to his community as a trustee of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation from 1986 to 2010, Chair of the Knight Board from 1996 to 2010 and since, Chair Emeritus, and he was also elected a member of the MIT Corporation (Board of Trustees) in 1973 and made a life member in 1983. He is also a member of the advisory committee for the President of the University of Akron and an honorary trustee of the Akron Art Museum.
Dr. Austen is a former trustee of the Dana-Farber/Partners CancerCare, the North Shore Medical Center, the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, and the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary. He continues to be very active in numerous roles at the MGH, Harvard Medical School and throughout the Partners Healthcare System. He has Chaired the MGH Chiefs Council since 1992.
Married to Patricia Ramsdell since 1961, Dr. Austen is the proud father of four children: Karl, Jay, Christopher and Elizabeth. He also has 10 grandchildren. In recognition of his exceptional achievements, Dr. Austen has been the recipient of honorary Doctor of Science degrees from the University of Akron, the University of Athens, the University of Massachusetts and the Northeast Ohio Medical School.
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