Bernard Lown, Innovative Doctor and Antiwar Activist, Dies at 99


In a 2008 memoir, “Prescription for Survival: A Doctor’s Journey to End Nuclear Madness,” Dr. Lown recounted the story of his antinuclear group and famous that the top of the Cold War had not resolved the specter of annihilation. “Eliminating the nuclear menace,” he wrote, “is a historic challenge questioning whether we humans have a future on planet earth.”

Bernard Lown was born in Utena, Lithuania, on June 7, 1921, to Nisson and Bella (Grossbard) Lown. A grandfather of his had been a rabbi in Lithuania.

The household emigrated to Maine in 1935, and his father ran a shoe manufacturing facility there, in Pittsfield. Bernard graduated from Lewiston High School in 1938. He earned a bachelor’s diploma in zoology at the University of Maine in 1942 and his medical diploma from Johns Hopkins University in 1945.

In 1946, he married Louise Lown, a cousin. She died in 2019. The couple had beforehand lived in Newton, Mass. In addition to his granddaughter Ariel, he’s survived by three kids, Anne, Fredric and Naomi Lown; 4 different grandchildren; and one great-grandchild

After an internship and residency in New York City, Dr. Lown settled in Boston in 1950 and over the following decade taught and carried out cardiovascular analysis at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital and the Harvard Medical School.

In 1952, he and Dr. Samuel A. Levine advisable in The Journal of the American Medical Association that sufferers with congestive coronary heart illness recuperate in an armchair, not a mattress, as a result of fluids pool within the chest cavity when mendacity down, forcing the guts to work tougher. The recommendation is broadly accepted now.

After listening to a lecture on drugs and nuclear warfare, Dr. Lown turned the founding president of Physicians for Social Responsibility in 1961. In 1962, he studied the medical results of a hypothetical nuclear assault on Boston. His conclusions — that the assault on one metropolis would exhaust all of the nation’s medical resources simply to deal with the burn victims — have been revealed in The New England Journal of Medicine.