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Bernard Lown
Lown Peace Bridge Dedication 2008 (cropped).jpg
Lown at the dedication of the Bernard Lown Peace Bridge, 2008
Boruch Lac

(1921-06-07)June 7, 1921
Died February 16, 2021(2021-02-16) (aged 99)
Nationality Lithuanian
Citizenship Lithuanian
Alma mater University of Maine
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Known for Developer of the defibrillator
Co-founder of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War
Spouse(s) Louise Lown
Scientific career
Fields Cardiologist, anti-nuclear war activist
Institutions Harvard School of Public Health
Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Doctoral advisor Samuel A. Levine

Bernard Lown (June 7, 1921 – February 16, 2021) was a Lithuanian-born American cardiologist and anti-nuclear war activist. He was the original developer of the DC defibrillator and the cardioverter, as well as a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.


Lown developed the direct current defibrillator for cardiac resuscitation and the cardioverter for correcting rapid disordered heart rhythms, and introduced a new use for the drug lidocaine to control heartbeat disturbances. Throughout his medical career, Lown focused on two major medical challenges: the problem of sudden cardiac death and the role of psychological stress on the cardiovascular system. His investigations led to many medical break-throughs.

His work made possible and safe much of modern cardiac surgery, as well as a host of other innovations.

In 1985, Lown accepted the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, an organization he co-founded with Soviet cardiologist Dr. Yevgeny Chazov, who later was Minister Of Health of the USSR.

Personal life

Lown was born to a Jewish family in Utena, Lithuania, the son of a rabbi. He was raised in Lewiston, Maine. Lown studied at the University of Maine and at Johns Hopkins University. He was married to Louise Lown. They had three children.

Lown died at his home in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts from pneumonia caused by congestive heart failure on February 16, 2021 at the age of 99.

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