Emery Andrew Rovenstine

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Emery Andrew Rovenstine
Dr. Rovenstine administering an anesthetic.png
Dr. Rovenstine administering an anesthetic
Born July 20, 1895
Atwood, Indiana, USA
Died November 9, 1960 (1960-11-10) (aged 65)
New York, USA
Education Wabash College, Indiana University
Medical career
Profession Physician

Emery Andrew Rovenstine (July 20, 1895 – November 9, 1960) was an American anesthesiologist best known for organizing the first academic Department of Anesthesiology at New York's Bellevue Hospital. He also helped develop the anesthetic use for the gas cyclopropane, and he was a pioneer in therapeutic nerve blocking.[1] Upon his death in 1960, the New York Times proclaimed him "one of the world's foremost anesthesiologists."[2]

Early life[edit]

Dr. Rovenstine was born in 1895, in Atwood, Indiana, where he clerked at his father’s grocery store. He briefly attended Winona College in nearby Winona Lake and taught high school before moving on to Wabash College, where he was graduated in 1917. Upon graduation, Rovenstine enlisted in the Army and served in France during World War I. During his three years of active duty, much of which he spent in charge of an engineering demolition squad, he witnessed battlefield pain and suffering which inspired him to pursue a career in medicine.[3]

Medical career[edit]

After returning home for several years of teaching and coaching, he decided to attend medical school at Indiana University, from which he received a degree in medicine in 1928. In 1930, after struggling to maintain a general practice during economically difficult times, he took a faculty post at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where he studied under Dr. Ralph M. Waters and served as assistant professor of anesthesia.[4] He and Waters experimented on the gas cyclopropane and were the first doctors to use it on human subjects.[5]

In 1935, Rovenstine was appointed chair of the department of anesthesiology at Bellevue Hospital, where he was influential in shaping the department’s mission and mentoring future generations of anesthesiologists. During this time he developed a nerve blocking technique and became the first anesthesiologist to set up a nerve blocking clinic for pain relief.[6] Two years later, he was appointed the second American professor of anesthesiology at New York University School of Medicine.

He became director at Goldwater Memorial Hospital in 1938 and Director at University Hospital a decade later. Also in 1938, he accepted a guest professorship at Oxford University in England, and, a year later, at University of Rosario in Argentina. He also accepted visiting appointments in Bohemia, Canada, Cuba, Czechoslovakia, France, Japan, Mexico and South Africa – and was inducted into the medical society of each respective nation.[7]

During World War II, Rovenstine served on the Army Advisory Board and was responsible for an order to Army general hospitals placing operating rooms in charge of anesthesiologists. The practice later became general.[8]

Rovenstine was a co-founder of the reorganized American Society of Anesthesiologists and served as its president from 1943 to 1944. In 1957, he received that Society's Distinguished Service Award. He was also the founder of the PostGraduate Assembly (PGA) in Anesthesiology and the American Board of Anesthesiology.

He was honored by numerous organizations and governments, notably being decorated at the Verdun by the French government (for his service in the war), and being decorated by the Order of the White Lion in Czechoslovakia (for a humanitarian teaching mission there).


Among Rovenstine's notable residents at Bellevue were Stuart Cullen, Emanuel Papper, Virginia Apgar, Perry Volpitto, John Adriani, Louis Orkin, Sam Denson, Richard Ament, Gertie Marx, Martin Helrich, Sara Joffe, and Lewis Wright.[9]

Rovenstine Lectureship[edit]

The Emery A. Rovenstine Memorial Lecture series began in 1962, shortly following Dr. Rovenstine's death. The lecture is delivered by a prominent anesthesiologist each year at the annual American Society of Anesthesiologists meeting, and has become the meeting's premier event.

Year Lecturer Title
1962 Francis D. Moore, M.D. Hemorrhage
1963 Julius H. Comroe, Jr., M.D., Ph.D. The Regulation of Respiration
1964 Eugene Braunwald, M.D. The Control of Cardiac Function
1965 Louis Lasagna, M.D. The Principles and Pitfalls in Evaluation of New Drugs
1966 E. M. Papper, M.D. Regional Anesthesia - A Critical Assessment of Its Place in Therapeutics
1967 Arthur C. Guyton, M.D. The Regulation of Cardiac Output
1968 Hermann Rahn, M.D. Evolution of Gas Transport Mechanisms from Fish to Man
1969 Niels A. Lassen, M.D. Cerebral Circulation and the Anesthetist: An Appraisal of Practical Consequences of Present Knowledge.
1970 Robert D. Dripps, M.D. The Physician and Society
1971 Julius Axelrod, M.D. Biochemical Factors in the Inactivation and Activation of Drugs
1972 Stuart C. Cullen, M.D. Factors Influencing Education in Anesthesiology
1973 William W. Mushin, M.B., B.S. The Decline and Fall of the Anesthesiologist?
1974 Otto K. Mayrhofer, M.D. How Can Acupuncture-Analgesia be Blended into the Modern Practice of Anaesthesiology?
1975 Harry C. Churchill-Davidson, M.D. Clinical Observation
1976 Francis D. Moore, M.D. Anesthesia and Surgical Care
1977 James E. Eckenhoff, M.D. A Wideangle View of Anesthesiology
1978 William K. Hamilton, M.D. Stress and Anesthesia
1979 Leroy D. Vandam, M.D. Anesthesiologists as Clinicians
1980 M. T. Pepper Jenkins, M.D. Responsibility for the Future
1981 E. S. Siker, M.D. A Measure of Worth
1982 S. G. Hershey, M.D. The Rovenstine Inheritance: A Chain of Leadership
1983 Arthur S. Keats, M.D. Cardiovascular Anesthesia: Perceptions and Perspectives
1984 Eugene A. Stead, Jr., M.D. The Physician: Education and Training
1985 John Lansdale, Esq. Anesthesiology: The Search for Identity
1986 Edward R. Annis, M.D. New Challenges—New Opportunities
1987 John F. Nunn, M.D., Ph.D. Balancing the Risks with the New Gases
1988 John D. Michenfelder, M.D. Neuroanesthesia and the Professional Respect
1989 Thomas F. Hornbein, M.D. Lessons from On High
1990 Robert K. Stoelting, M.D. Clinical Challenges for the Anesthesiologist
1991 Alan R. Nelson, M.D. Medicine 2000: Expectations, Realities and Values
1992 Nicholas M. Greene, M.D The Changing Horizons in Anesthesiology
1993 Betty J. Bamforth, M.D. Learning from our Past
1994 Lawrence J. Saidman, M.D. What I Have Learned after Nine Years and 9,000 Papers
1995 Ellison C. Pierce, Jr., M.D. 40 Years Behind the Mask: Safety Revisited
1996 David E. Longnecker, M.D. Navigation in Uncharted Waters: Is Anesthesiology on Course for the 21st Century?
1997 Michael J. Cousins, MD Pain: The Past, Present, and Future of Anesthesiology
1998 Francis M. James, III, M.D. Who Will Lead Us?
1999 Carl C. Hug Jr., M.D., Ph.D. Patient Values, Hippocrates, Science and Technology
2000 James F. Arens, M.D. Rovenstine Legacy 40 Years Later in Y2K
2001 Glenn W. Johnson ASA: Education, Science & Advocacy—Past, Present and Future
2002 Burton S. Epstein, M.D. ASA's Efforts In Developing Guidelines for Sedation and Analgesia for Nonanesthesiologists
2003 Terri G. Monk, M.D. Postoperative Cognitive Dysfunction: The Next challenge In Geriatric Anesthesia
2004 Jerome H. Modell, M.D Assessing the Past and Shaping the Future Of Anesthesiology
2005 Mark A. Warner, M.D. Who Better than Anesthesiologists?
2006 Jerry Reves, M.D. We Are What We Make
2007 James E. Cottrell, M.D. We Care, Therefore We Are: Anesthesia-Related Morbidity and Mortality
2008 Ronald D. Miller, M.D. The Pursuit of Excellence
2009 Peter J. Pronovost, M.D., Ph.D. We Need Leaders
2010 Kevin K. Tremper, Ph.D., M.D. Anesthesiology: From Patient Safety to Population Outcomes
2011 Patricia A. Kapur, M.D. Leading into the Future
2012 Jeffrey L. Apfelbaum, M.D. Safety in Numbers: The Genesis, Development, and Future of ASA Practice Parameters
2013 John B. Neeld, Jr., M.D Winning the War
2014 Karen B. Domino, M.D., M.P.H. Health Care at the Crossroads: The Imperative for Change
2015 James Eisenach, M.D. Without Science There is Little Art in Anesthesiology
2016 David H. Chestnut, M.D On the Road to Professionalism


Athletics played a significant role in Rovenstine's life. His first encounter with an anesthesiologist was during a high school basketball game, when he head-butted Arthur Ernest Guedel, a prominent scholar who happened to be officiating. Guedel threw the boy over his knee and gave him a spanking. He later studied under Guedel at Indiana University, and it was Guedel who helped Rovenstine secure the post at the University of Wisconsin.

At Wabash College, Rovenstine played baseball, basketball, football, and was sports editor of the school's newspaper. He also played semi-profession baseball on the side under the name "Jack Andrews."

Rovenstine coached basketball himself at LaPorte High School in LaPorte, Indiana from 1920 to 1924, where he still has the best winning percentage in the school's history.

Year Won Lost
1920 - 1921 14 5
1921 - 1922 18 2
1922 - 1923 13 8
1923 - 1924 11 10
Career Total 56 25


  1. ^ Rovenstine, E.A., Hershey, S.G. (1944). “Therapeutic and Diagnostic Nerve Blocking: A Plan for Organization.” Anesthesiology 5(6), 574-582.
  2. ^ “E.A. Rovenstine, Physician, Dead”. (November 10, 1960). New York Times
  3. ^ Mark Murphy, Profiles, “Anesthesiologist,” The New Yorker, October 25, 1947, p. 36
  4. ^ Ament, Richard; Bacon, Douglas R., "Ralph Waters and the Beginnings of Academic Anesthesiology in the United States: The Wisconsin Template." Journal of Clinical Anesthesia (1995) 7: 534-543
  5. ^ Mark Murphy, Profiles, “Anesthesiologist,” The New Yorker, October 25, 1947, p. 36
  6. ^ Kaye, Alan D.; Urman, Richard D. (2011). Understanding Pain: What You Need to Know to Take Control. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO. ISBN 978-0-313-39603-8
  7. ^ "We Salute Emery A. Rovenstine, B.A., M.D., D.Sc." (1960). Anesthesia and Analges, 39(4)
  8. ^ “E.A. Rovenstine, Physician, Dead”. (November 10, 1960). New York Times
  9. ^ Wang, Boardman C., Orkin, Louis, Sutin, Kenneth M., Blanck, Thomas J.J. (2003). “The Contribution of Doctor Emory A. Rovenstine to Anesthesiology.” Anesthesiology 99, A1271

External links[edit]