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Pitt’s Critical Care Medicine Experts Honor a Founder of the Field

PITTSBURGH, Sept. 21, 2009 – In celebration of his groundbreaking efforts that helped launch a new medical discipline, the Department of Critical Care Medicine (CCM) hosted a reception for Distinguished Service Professor Ake Grenvik, M.D., Ph.D., who has retired after a 40-year career at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

The event included presentation of the Ake and Inger Grenvik Chair of Critical Care Medicine and Education to Paul L. Rogers, M.D., CCM professor and program director of the Multidisciplinary Critical Care Training Program.

“Dr. Grenvik co-founded and directed Pitt’s CCM training program — the first of its kind in the country — for 25 years,” said Michael R. Pinsky, M.D., department vice chair for academic affairs and professor of CCM, bioengineering, cardiovascular disease and anesthesiology. “At one time, half of the world’s intensive care physicians were alumni of this program, which remains the largest in the world. To date, nearly 700 specialists have trained here.”

When Peter Safar, M.D., who died in 2003, joined the Pitt faculty in 1968 to be the chair of the Department of Anesthesiology, he brought Dr. Grenvik with him. They developed the idea of teaching anesthesiologists, surgeons and internists to further specialize as intensivists to care for the most critically ill patients.

Critical care medicine was recognized as a specialty in 1986, and Pitt established the first academic department to focus on the field in 2002. Dr. Grenvik co-authored the first textbook on the field and served as one of four editors through its first four editions, published more than 350 scientific papers and book chapters and edited 25 books. He is a founding member, past president and winner, in 2000, of a lifetime achievement award from the Society for Critical Care Medicine, which this year established the Ake Grenvik Plenary Lecture as a regular feature of its annual meeting. He also is a founding council member and past member of the World Federation of Societies of Intensive and Critical Care Medicine.

Dr. Grenvik was born in Sunne, Sweden in 1929. He received his medical degree in 1956 from Stockholm’s Karolinska Institute and his doctoral degree in physiology in 1966 from the University of Uppsala. He has been a tenured professor of anesthesiology and critical care medicine at the School of Medicine since 1974 and a Distinguished Service Professor of critical care medicine since 1995. For 10 years, he held a faculty position at the Peter M. Winter Institute for Simulation, Education and Research (WISER), UPMC’s simulation center for training of all categories of health care students and professionals.

About the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

As one of the nation’s leading academic centers for biomedical research, the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine integrates advanced technology with basic science across a broad range of disciplines in a continuous quest to harness the power of new knowledge and improve the human condition. Driven mainly by the School of Medicine and its affiliates, Pitt has ranked among the top 10 recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health since 1997 and now ranks fifth in the nation, according to preliminary data for fiscal year 2008. Likewise, the School of Medicine is equally committed to advancing the quality and strength of its medical and graduate education programs, for which it is recognized as an innovative leader, and to training highly skilled, compassionate clinicians and creative scientists well-equipped to engage in world-class research. The School of Medicine is the academic partner of UPMC, which has collaborated with the University to raise the standard of medical excellence in Pittsburgh and to position health care as a driving force behind the region’s economy. For more information, visit the School of Medicine's web site.

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