Helen B. Taussig
|Helen Brooke Taussig|
|Born||May 24, 1898
|Died||May 20, 1986 (aged 87)
Chester County, Pennsylvania
|Alma mater||Harvard Medical School|
|Known for||Blalock–Taussig shunt|
Helen Brooke Taussig (May 24, 1898 – May 20, 1986) was an American cardiologist, working in Baltimore and Boston, who founded the field of pediatric cardiology. Notably, she is credited with developing the concept for a procedure that would extend the lives of children born with Tetrology of Fallot (also known as blue baby syndrome). This concept was applied in practice as a procedure known as the Blalock-Taussig shunt. The procedure was developed by Dr. Alfred Blalock and Vivien Thomas, who were Taussig's colleagues at the Johns Hopkins Hospital.
Helen Brook Tausig was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Her father was Harvard economist Frank W. Taussig, and her mother Edith Thomas was one of the first students at Radcliffe College. When she was eleven years old, Helen's mother died. Helen struggled with severe dyslexia through her early school years, overcoming it only with diligent work and extensive tutoring from her father. She graduated Cambridge School for Girls in 1917, then studied for two years at Radcliffe before earning a bachelor's degree from the University of California, Berkeley in 1921. She then studied at both Harvard Medical School and Boston University before pursuing her postgraduate cardiac research at Johns Hopkins University.
Dr. Taussig became profoundly deaf in the later part of her career, and learned to use lip-reading to listen to her patients, and her fingers in place of a stethoscope to feel the rhythm of their heartbeats.
Dr. Taussig did extensive work on anoxemia, or blue baby syndrome, which led to the development of a pioneering cardiac surgical procedure for infants called the Blalock-Thomas-Taussig shunt, first performed by Taussig and Dr. Alfred Blalock on an 11-month old baby girl on November 29, 1944. Taussig wrote the book Congenital Malformations of the Heart in 1947, and received the 1954 Albert Lasker Award for Clinical Medical Research for her work. In 1959, she was one of the first women to be awarded a full professorship at Johns Hopkins University. During this time she was aided by Dr. Haywood Turner (now deceased) from Columbus, Georgia, who worked with her for two years doing research on children's heart defects.
Taussig formally retired from Johns Hopkins in 1963, but continued to teach, give lectures, and lobby for various causes. In addition, she kept writing scientific papers (of the 100 total that Taussig wrote, 41 were after her retirement from Johns Hopkins). She advocated the use of animals in medical research and legalized abortion. Taussig also learned of the damaging effects of the drug thalidomide on newborns and testified before Congress on this matter. As a result of her efforts, thalidomide was banned in the United States. In 1977, Taussig moved to a retirement community in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. Ever active, she continued making periodic trips to the University of Delaware for research work.
Just after beginning a new study of defects in bird hearts, on May 20, 1986, while driving friends to a local election polling place, she died in a car accident. Her death came just four days before what would have been her 88th birthday. She is buried in Mount Auburn Cemetery, outside of Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Dr. Taussig was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Lyndon Johnson in 1964, and the following year she became the first female president of the American Heart Association. Johns Hopkins University named the "Helen B. Taussig Children's Pediatric Cardiac Center" in her honor, and in 2005 the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine named one of its four colleges in her honor.
Film portrayals 
- "College Advising Program". Retrieved 25 July 2012.
- Neill, C A; Clark, E B (1999), "The Paediatric Cardiology Hall of Fame: Helen Brooke Taussig MD. May 24, 1898 to May 20, 1986", Cardiology in the young (1999 Jan) 9 (1): 104–8, doi:10.1017/S1047951100007526, PMID 10323553
- Friedman, M (1997), "Helen Brooke Taussig, M.D.: the original pediatric cardiologist", Maryland medical journal (Baltimore, Md. : 1985) (1997 Sep) 46 (8): 445–7, PMID 9294954
- Neill, C A (1994), "Helen Brooke Taussig", J. Pediatr. (1994 Sep) 125 (3): 499–502, doi:10.1016/S0022-3476(05)83307-4, PMID 8071766
- McNamara, D G; Manning, J A; Engle, M A; Whittemore, R; Neill, CA; Ferencz, C (1987), "Helen Brooke Taussig: 1898 to 1986", J. Am. Coll. Cardiol. (1987 Sep) 10 (3): 662–71, doi:10.1016/S0735-1097(87)80211-5, PMID 3305662
- Neill, C A (1987), "Dr. Helen Brooke Taussig May 24, 1898--May 20, 1986. International cardiologist", Int. J. Cardiol. (1987 Feb) 14 (2): 255–61, doi:10.1016/0167-5273(87)90017-9, PMID 3546165
- Dietrich, H J (1986), "Helen Brooke Taussig 1898-1986", Transactions & studies of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia (1986 Dec) 8 (4): 265–71, PMID 3544367
- McNamara, D G (1986), "Helen Brooke Taussig: 1898-1986", Pediatr Cardiol 7 (1): 1–2, PMID 3534805
- Engle, M A (1985), "Dr. Helen Brooke Taussig, living legend in cardiology", Clinical cardiology (1985 Jun) 8 (6): 372–4, doi:10.1002/clc.4960080614, PMID 3891183
- Harvey, A M (1977), "Helen Brooke Taussig", The Johns Hopkins medical journal (1977 Apr) 140 (4): 137–41, PMID 321852
- Schoenberg, D G; Schoenberg, B S (1977), "Eponym: Helen Brooke Taussig: in the pink", South. Med. J. (1977 Jul) 70 (7): 862, PMID 327568
- Engle, M A (1982), "Biographies of great American pediatricians--Helen Brooke Taussig: the mother of pediatric cardiology", Pediatric annals (1982 Jul) 11 (7): 629–31, PMID 7050856
- Helen Brooke Taussig
- Findagrave: Helen B. Taussig