Columbians Ahead of Their Time
 André Frédéric Cournand
André Frédéric Cournand "We must educate people to develop a taste for ideas."

André Frédéric Cournand (1895–1988)
Faculty 1935-61

Along with Dickinson Woodruff Richards and Werner O.T. Forssmann, André F. Cournand revolutionized cardiology and pulmonology with his groundbreaking research into cardiac catheterization. In 1929, Forssmann tested the first prototype for cardiac catheterization by threading a catheter through a vein in his own arm to reach his own heart. After World War II, Richards and Cournand demonstrated the importance of catheterization to the diagnosis of heart and lung diseases. The three were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1956 for their tool that penetrates the heart to record blood pressure and other conditions essential to the treatment of cardiovascular and pulmonary disease. They were cited for their work using a thin tube to explore the interior of the functioning human heart—the precursor to today's interventional cardiology practices. The Nobel recognized "their discoveries concerning heart catheterization and pathological changes in the circulatory system. These investigations have meant that diagnosis can now be made earlier and with greater certainty than before."

After serving in World War I, Cournand worked in Paris hospitals in the 1920s, receiving his medical degree from Faculté de Médecine de Paris in May 1930. He then obtained a residency in the Tuberculosis (later Chest) Service of the Columbia University Division at Bellevue Hospital. Working with many collaborators, Cournand and Richards established a cardiopulmonary laboratory at Bellevue. This lab was where most of the clinical work was done, and where the two pioneered the conceptual merger of the heart and lung into a single organ.

Adapted from P&S vol. 23, no. 3, fall 2003

Read about Cournand in the Columbia Encyclopedia.

Cournand shares the prize


Mentor and collaborator

Living Legacy

Cournand, Richards and the Bellevue Hospital Cardiopulmonary Laboratory


People, events, and contributions worth remembering

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Columbians Ahead of Their Time

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