Portrait of Alton Ochsner

Portrait of Alton Ochsner
The inscription reads, "To Michael DeBakey--a sincere appreciation of his industry, ability and loyalty. Alton Ochsner.". Dr. Alton Ochsner was born in 1896 in Kimball, South Dakota. He matriculated at the University of South Dakota at Vermillion and received his medical degree from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri. He quickly became a prominent surgeon and, in 1926, was recruited to become the Chairman of Surgery at Tulane University from his post as a faculty member at the University of Wisconsin. At Tulane, Ochsner taught more than 3,000 medical students, including Michael E. DeBakey. With DeBakey, he conducted groundbreaking research that linked tobacco with lung cancer. This was the start of Ochsner's anti-smoking crusade, which he maintained throughout his lifetime in spite of harsh criticism. At the time of his retirement in 1967 at the age of 70, Ochsner had performed an estimated 20,000 surgeries and cofounded the Ochsner Medical Institutions, which included a hospital, a clinic, and a research center. Ochsner died in 1981.. In a 1935 letter to his father, DeBakey wrote that Dr. Ochsner had nominated him for admittance into Sigma Xi, an honorary scientific fraternity, and had secured a place for DeBakey at Dr. Leriche's clinic and would "get me one of the best places in Germany." He went on to say that Dr. Ochsner "wants me to get all this training so that I will be better equipped and will be of greater value to him. He has some very big plans for me when I get back."
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Courtesy of Katrin DeBakey.
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