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Biographical entry Ebert, Paul Allen (1932 - 2009)

MD Ohio State 1958; Hon FRCS 1991.

11 August 1932
Columbus, Ohio, USA
20 April 2009
Cardiothoracic surgeon and Thoracic surgeon


Paul Allen Ebert was an American thoracic and cardiovascular surgeon. He is best known for his contributions to the repair of complex cardiac anomalies in infants and for his directorship of the American College of Surgeons. He is also remembered as a researcher, educator and athlete.

Paul Ebert was born in Columbus, Ohio, on 11 August 1932. He attended Ohio State University in Columbus, where he became a widely recognised student athlete, excelling at both baseball and basketball. He was recruited to play professional baseball for the New York Giants and Pittsburgh Pirates, but declined their offers in order to pursue a medical career.

After earning his medical degree from Ohio State University in 1958, Ebert completed his surgery internship and residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital under the direction of Alfred Blalock. Ebert spent two years as a senior assistant surgeon at the National Heart Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, and then went on to become a professor of surgery at Duke University Medical Center. Later he served as chairman of the department of surgery at Cornell University Medical College (from 1971 to 1975) in New York City and then as chairman of the department of surgery at the University of California San Francisco Medical Center (UCSF) (from 1975 to 1986). While at UCSF, he contributed many advances to the field of cardiovascular surgery, specifically pertaining to the primary surgical repair of complex cardiac anomalies in infants. In particular, he introduced clinical methods that greatly enhanced the survival of patients with truncus arteriosus and that enabled neonates with transposition of the great arteries to undergo the arterial switch operation.

In 1986, Ebert left clinical practice to become executive director of the American College of Surgeons (ACS), headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. With him at the helm, the ACS expanded its member services, established an extensive managed-care educational programme, and maintained a strong lobby in Congress on behalf of patient choice. He also organised the construction of a new building to serve as a permanent home for the college. This building also houses the administrative offices of the Society of Thoracic Surgeons, the Society for Vascular Surgery, the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma, and other professional organisations.

Ebert was a member of many surgical societies and served as president of the American Association for Thoracic Surgery, the Society of University Surgeons and the Western Thoracic Surgical Association, among others. He was also a member of the Johns Hopkins Society of Scholars and was vice chair of the American Board of Thoracic Surgery (from 1987 to 1989). He wrote or co-authored 198 peer-reviewed scientific articles. He was also a popular and gifted surgical educator.

In retirement, Ebert enjoyed golfing with the Senior Cardiovascular Surgical Society, a small group of surgical educators from major US medical institutions who met to play golf and exchange surgical experiences. In 1989, he received the Theodore Roosevelt award, the National Collegiate Athletic Association's highest honour, which is given to varsity athletes who have achieved high recognition in their adult lives.

On 20 April 2009, Paul Ebert died of a heart attack sustained while playing golf. He was 76. He was survived by Louise Joyce (née Parks), his wife of 55 years, and by their three children (Leslie, Mike and Julie) and five grandchildren.

Denton A Cooley

Sources used to compile this entry: [Tex Heart Inst J 2009; 36(3): 190-191; CTS Net The Cardiothoracic Surgery Network Paul Ebert - 1932-2009 - accessed 19 March 2014].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England