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Dr. Gerald Lawrie is awarded prestigious DeBakey Endowed Chair

Houston, TX - 5/12/2008

Dr. Gerald Lawrie, cardiothoracic surgeon at the Methodist DeBakey Heart & Vascular Center, has received the Michael E. DeBakey Endowed Chair for cardiac surgery.

Lawrie, a pioneer in valvular surgery, invented a technique called the American Correction, with which he has a 100 percent success rate for repair of diseased mitral valves. In 2007, Lawrie was the first to use a surgical robot to successfully repair a mitral valve using this advanced technique.

Standard surgeries for this repair involve opening the chest and a subsequent long recovery for patients. Using the robot is a much less invasive technique, so patients suffer fewer complications and return to their normal lives much quicker, Lawrie said.

“Gerald Lawrie is continually contributing to and advancing the field of cardiac surgery,” said Dr. Alan Lumsden, chair of the department of cardiovascular surgery at The Methodist Hospital in Houston. “His contributions have vastly improved the techniques and skills of his fellow surgeons as well as improving the lives of patients across the world.”

Lawrie graduated from the University of Sydney Medical School. He continued his surgical education in the Teaching Hospitals of the University of N.S.W. in Sidney, then spent five months at the Institute of Basic Medical Sciences of the Royal College of Surgeons in London. While Lawrie was completing his residency training in thoracic and cardiovascular surgery in Teaching Hospitals, DeBakey was a visiting professor in Sydney. DeBakey invited Lawrie to spend a year with him in Houston.

Between 1974 and 1975, Lawrie completed a cardiovascular fellowship at The Methodist Hospital in Houston with DeBakey. After the fellowship, Lawrie was invited to join DeBakey’s personal staff as an associate surgeon. In this capacity he worked with DeBakey on a daily basis for over 20 years.

Over the course of his career, Lawrie has trained thousands of surgeons on advancements in the repair of mitral valves and treatment of complications associated with this disease. He has more than 250 publications in respected medical journals.

Lawrie also has been actively involved in the development of The Methodist Hospital’s new surgical skills training facility called the Methodist Institute for Technology, Innovation and Education (MITIE™), a virtual hospital and high-tech environment that incorporates imaging, robotics and simulation to enable surgeons and their teams to master new skills. Surgeons come from across the world to watch Lawrie perform surgery with the robot in the operating room and then practice with him in the virtual MITIE environment.

The DeBakey Endowed Chair will help fund research and advancements in the treatment of heart and valvular disease.

For more information on the Methodist DeBakey Heart & Vascular Center, see www.debakeyheartcenter.com.