John Hedley-Whyte
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John Hedley-Whyte 

My early research on the solubility and physiology of oxygen uptake led to a clinical focus on respiratory pathophysiology and its mitigation, as well as the role of equipment safety and performance in patient care. In 1966 I began my work in the development of national and international safety and performance standards for anesthesia and respiratory care equipment. In 1967, I was recruited from the Massachusetts General Hospital to head the first academic Department of Anesthesia at the Beth Israel Hospital, a Residency Program I directed for twenty years. Fifteen of my trainees have achieved Professorships in Anesthesiology. I was named the first David S. Sheridan Professor of Anaesthesia and Respiratory Therapy in 1976. Recognizing the importance of robust statistical methodologies for assessment of patient outcome and equipment performance, I worked closely with the late Prof. F. Mosteller; our association resulted in a Professorship at the Harvard School of Public Health, publications and a monthly seminar I still chair. From 1994-2000 I chaired a Harvard Medical Institutions Committee on Standards for Ambulatory Surgery and Anesthesia to ensure parity of care for outpatient surgery. My experience of medicine in its broader historical context has led to recent publications and my recent appointment to the Editorial Board of the Ulster Medical Journal. Since 1988 I have had no clinical responsibilities. I estimate that 40 percent of my time is devoted to research, 40 percent to teaching and preparation of national and international equipment safety recommendations, and 20 percent to administrative duties.

Area of Excellence (Investigation, Teaching and Educational Leadership). I directed from its inception the Anaesthesia Residency Program at the Beth Israel Hospital for two decades; fifteen of my trainees are now Full Professors. Since 1967 I have held national and international leadership roles in development of approximately 90 published safety and performance standards for anesthetic and respiratory care equipment; I have encouraged other academic physicians to participate in this work and publish their progress in peer-reviewed journals.

Significant Supporting Activities. I was Professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management, Harvard School of Public Health, 1988-2000. I was vice-chairman of the Harvard University Technology Assessment Group and its Monthly Seminar under the late Prof. F. Mosteller (1994-2003) and have been chairman since 2004. This group of physicians, statisticians and others assesses new technologies and advises Harvard researchers on effective statistical methodologies and data presentation for successful grant applications.Summary: My academic efforts have focused on preparing anesthesiologists for leadership roles in research and teaching, as well as on clinical excellence. Safety and performance of medical equipment and optimal patient care require both standards and assessment methodologies. Lessons for the future emerge from the study of medical history.


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