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Helen Brooke Taussig

Dr. Helen Brooke Taussig, professor emerita of pediatrics of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, is known throughout the world for her achievements and advancements in the field of congenital heart disease.

After earning an A.B. from the University of California and a medical degree from Johns Hopkins, Taussig spent a year performing research at the Boston University School of Medicine. She interned in pediatrics at Johns Hopkins and became the physician-in-charge of the Harriet Lane Home Cardiac Clinic. She was instructor of pediatric cardiology there from 1930-46, associate professor of pediatrics from 1946-59, and professor until 1963, when she received emerita status.

Her long and rich service to humankind included the development, with Dr. Alfred Blalock, of the blue-baby operation that saved thousands of children born without enough oxygen due to a heart defect. During her career she also played a major role in preventing an outbreak of thalidomaide-induced birth defects and founded the Rheumatic Fever Clinic at Johns Hopkins Hospital, one of the first training centers for pediatric cardiologists.

The first woman president of the American Heart Association, Taussig was a member of President Lyndon Johnson’s Commission on Heart Disease, Cancer and Stroke; a member of the board of the International Cardiology Foundation; and a member of the U.S. delegation to the 20th World Health Assembly in 1967. She received many awards for her achievements, including the Lasker Award, the Elizabeth Blackwell Citation of the New York Infirmary and the Medal of Freedom. She was named to the Women’s Hall of Fame in 1973.

Taussig died in 1986 at the age of 87.