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1948 - 2016

JOHN C. BALDWIN M.D., 1948 - 2016

Renowned American cardiac surgeon Dr. John Charles Baldwin, MD, died on April 3, 2016 at age 67 following a swimming accident. Dr. Baldwin was an extraordinary academic surgeon who was successful in every domain of academic surgical practice. Born in Fort Worth, Texas on September 23, 1948 and raised in La Cruces, New Mexico, Dr. Baldwin exhibited natural leadership qualities and manifold talents as a young man. Prior to attending Harvard University, he was a school valedictorian, class president and varsity athlete. In 1971, he graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor's degree in anthropology from Harvard University and was selected for a Rhodes Scholarship. After completing his studies at Oxford, Dr. Baldwin earned a medical degree from Stanford University in 1975. He did his medical and surgical residencies at Massachusetts General Hospital. He then completed cardiothoracic surgical training under the wing of cardiac surgical pioneer Dr. Norman E. Shumway (1923-2006).

In his early career, Dr. Baldwin was director of the heart and lung transplant and director of cardiovascular research laboratories at Stanford (1983-1988), where he performed the first human lung transplantation of lung tissue procured at long distance. In 1988, he became chief of cardiothoracic surgery at Yale University. While at Yale, he performed first successful transplant on the East Coast and led a prolific NIH-funded research program which made contributions to heart and lung transplant, heart assist devices, tissue preservation and gene therapy. As an investigator, he would receive a career total of nine NIH grants. In 1994, Dr. Baldwin succeeded the world-renowned cardiac surgical innovator Dr. Michael E. DeBakey as Chairman of the Department of Surgery at Baylor College of Medicine. Following his tenure at Baylor College of Medicine, Dr. Baldwin was elected to the Board of Overseers at Harvard in 1995, and remained in the service of his beloved alma mater until the end of his days.

In 1998, Dr. Baldwin was named Dean of the medical school and Associate Provost for Health Affairs of Dartmouth University. Under Dr. Baldwin's leadership, Dartmouth experienced record growth of its endowment and extramural research funding from the NIH. From 2005 to 2007, he was President and CEO of the Harvard Immune Disease Institute. In 2007, he returned to his home state to become President of Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. In a short period of time, Dr. Baldwin oversaw the full accreditation of the Texas Tech's El Paso campus and its establishment of a new school of nursing. In 2009 he resigned as President but remained an advisor to the chancellor and tenured professor at Texas Tech.

In addition to his institutional responsibilities, Dr. Baldwin held numerous positions in national societies, including Governor of the American College of Surgeons, President of the International Society of Cardiothoracic Surgeons and member of the Board of Directors of the United Network for Organ Sharing. Until his premature death, Dr. Baldwin's expertise was widely sought, in the U.S. and abroad, by businesses, government agencies, universities and charities.

A humanist through and through, Dr. Baldwin was a passionate advocate for universal access to healthcare and physician leadership. While at Dartmouth, he spent a sabbatical year as the Malcolm Weiner Fellow in Social Policy studying the economics of the medically uninsured at Harvard's Dr. Baldwin F. Kennedy School of Government. Dr. Baldwin expressed his commitment to universal healthcare and human rights in his writings for national papers and speeches at government hearing. He was appointed to the Board of Directors of the Robert F. Kennedy Foundation and the Board of Trustees of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights. In recognition of his national leadership in health care policy, President Barak Obama appointed Dr. Baldwin to a four-year term as a member of the U.S. Defense Health Board in 2012.

Dr. Baldwin's legacy is one of excellence, success and service in academic surgery. His life is a blueprint for physician-scientist leadership as a platform for service to the many. He will be deeply missed and remembered by his family, colleagues, the medical community, and countless individuals whose lives he touched.