American Surgical Association Transactions

Search Transactions

1925 - 2019

James R. Malm, M.D., 1925-2019

Dr. James Royal Malm, Professor Emeritus of Surgery at Columbia University, died peacefully at Amelia Island in Florida, on September 21, 2019. He was 94 years.

Born September 7, 1925 in Cleveland, Ohio, Dr. Malm completed his undergraduate degree at Princeton University in 1947, and received his medical degree from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1949. This was followed by a two year internship at the Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia. Following military service (1951-1953) in the U.S. Navy Medical Corps, he completed his surgical residency training and thoracic fellowship at Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital in 1958, and served on the faculty until his retirement in 1991.

During his tenure at Columbia, he was an Attending Surgeon at Presbyterian Hospital, the first Chief of the Cardiac Surgical Service, and later Chief of the Thoracic and Cardiac Surgical Service. He made extraordinary contributions in the field of cardiac and thoracic surgery as a clinician, teacher and mentor, helping set the standards for future generations in education and training. Those he trained remember him as an outstanding mentor, always available for advice and support and a wonderful role model. In 1996, he was honored by Columbia University College of P&S with the Distinguished Service Award.

A pioneer in surgery for congenital heart disease, he proved that tetralogy of Fallot could be corrected with low mortality, and with his colleague Dr. Frederick O. Bowman, developed a management approach that became the standard of care for the treatment of this condition. His expertise and innovative approach to complex heart disease benefited thousands of children in his care, and was an inspiration to those who trained under him. His legacy will live on due to the efforts of one grateful family who speared the founding of The Babies Heart Fund in 1986, and the creation of the James R. Malm, MD, Professorship of Pediatric Cardiovascular Medicine and Surgery in the Division of Pediatric Cardiology at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, in 2018.

An active member in national and international surgical societies, Dr. Malm was President of the American Association for Thoracic Surgery, and the New York Society for Thoracic Surgery, and served on several editorial boards. As a member of the American Board of Thoracic Surgery and Residency Review Committee in Thoracic Surgery, he helped develop national standards for thoracic surgery education and training programs.

Dr. Malm lived life to the fullest. In retirement he spent 12 happy years with his family in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, becoming involved in local clubs, playing competitive tennis, and learning to become a proficient fly (salt water) fisherman. He and his wife finally moved south to spend their sunset years on Amelia Island in Florida.

He is survived by his beloved wife of 69 years, Connie, four daughters, Betsy M. Holdsworth, Melissa, Karen and Sarah Malm, six grandchildren, and three great grandchildren. He will be missed but not forgotten. He will be remembered especially by those who were privileged to live a full life due to his surgical expertise and teaching.