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Academic Health Center Oral History Project

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Buchwald, Henry

Buchwald Pic.jpg Dr. Henry Buchwald began his residency at the University of Minnesota in 1960. He concurrently completed his master's in biochemistry under Dr. Ivan Frantz and became a professor in 1966. Dr. Buchwald's career has included research into the partial illeal bypass for the alleviation of chronically high cholesterol as part of the widely praised POSCH trials; the creation of the first implantable infusion pump, Infusaid, for the treatment of diabetes; and most recently the jejunoileal bypass for the treatment of obesity. He continues to be a professor of surgery and bioengineering at the University and is an Emeritus Professor of the Owen H. and Sarah Davidson Wangensteen Chair in Experimental Surgery.

Interview Abstract
Dr. Henry Buchwald begins his interview talking about his early life: fleeing Austria in the midst of the Holocaust, growing up in New York, and his baccalaureate and medical education at Columbia. He discusses how he arrived at an interest in medicine, his time in the Air Force, and his reasons for choosing to pursue a residency at the University of Minnesota. As part of his time at Minnesota, Dr. Buchwald compares the University's research program with those of other medical schools, relates the profound influence of Owen Wangensteen on the Surgery Department, and discusses his early lab work and his studies of biochemistry, particularly lipids, with Ivan Frantz. In reviewing his changing research interests, Dr. Buchwald cites major diseases afflicting society at various times during his career: the increasing association of cholesterol with heart disease prompted his early interest in lipid uptake and spurred his work on the Program on Surgical Control of Hyperlipidemias (POSCH); the need for treatments for diabetes prompted his research into Infusaid, the first implantable infusion pump, a collaborative effort that led to the development of several other devices and eventually the establishment of a bioengineering program at the University; and finally, the ongoing obesity epidemic spurred Dr. Buchwald's current research into the jejunoileal bypass for the treatment of obesity. In his reflections on obesity research, Dr. Buchwald discusses the high level of stigmatism associated with the disease and the difficulty of funding research into its treatment.

Part two of Dr. Buchwald's interview begins with a discussion of the mentorship he received at the University, specifically, Drs. Owen Wangensteen, Richard Varco, Ivan Frantz, C. Walton Lillehei, and Richard Lillehei. He then relates his surgical partnership with Jack Delaney, who eventually specialized in surgical oncology--particularly related to the breast, thyroid, and endocrine system. In this same vein, Dr. Buchwald reflects on specialization within the surgical profession over his career. He then discusses his experience with NIH funding, the changing nature of surgical research, Dr. Najarian's tenure as Chief of Surgery, the ALG scandal, and Dr. Owen Wangensteen's significant financial contributions to the surgical program. The conversation then evolves toward discussions of administrative changes at the University, including the AHC reorganization, town/gown relationships, salary caps, and the merger of University Hospitals with Fairview. The interview ends with Dr. Buchwald's reflection on the changing culture of the medical profession, including discussions of individualism, teamwork, and bureaucracy.

Biographical Sketch
Henry Buchwald was born in Vienna, Austria. His family, fleeing from the Holocaust, came to the United States in 1938. He grew up in the boroughs of Long Island, Brooklyn and later in Manhattan in New York City. He graduated from the Bronx High School of Science in 1950 and attended Columbia College. After three years as an undergraduate, he pursued the professional option, moving on to the College of Physicians and Surgeons, the medical school of Columbia University. He completed medical school in 1957 and took an internship at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital from 1957-1958. After completing his internship, Dr. Buchwald completed his military obligations as part of the Berry Plan in the Air Force as a flight surgeon from 1958 to 1960. Because of its reputation for a strong academic surgical program, Dr. Buchwald began his residency at the University of Minnesota on September 11, 1960. He concurrently completed his Master's in Biochemistry under Dr. Ivan Frantz and became a professor in 1966. Dr. Buchwald's career has included research into the partial illeal bypass for the alleviation of chronically high cholesterol as part of the widely praised POSCH trials; the creation of the first implantable infusion pump, Infusaid, for the treatment of diabetes; and most recently the jejunoileal bypass for the treatment of obesity. He continues to be a professor of surgery and bioengineering at the University and is an Emeritus Professor of the Owen H. and Sarah Davidson Wangensteen Chair in Experimental Surgery.

Interview Transcript
HBuchwald.pdf