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NRI Dr. Atul Gawande wins 2006 'genius' award in US

Chicago, Sep. 19, 2006
Darshan Malhotra
NRI press

NRI Dr. Atul Gawande is a general and endocrine surgeon at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, an assistant professor at the Harvard School of Public Health and of surgery at Harvard Medical School is among 25 winners who have won a spend-it-as-you-like $ 500,000 prize known as the 'genius' grants awarded annually by a well-known American Foundation.

The fellowships awarded by the The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, worth a total of $12.5 million US, are given to individuals who display "exceptional creativity, promise for important future advances based on a track record of significant accomplishment, and potential for the fellowship to facilitate subsequent creative work and these awards are about more than money," the organization said in a statement. The grants are awarded by an anonymous 12-member selection committee and the foundation's board of directors. The foundation has named 732 fellows since 1981.This year's MacArthur Fellows, who range in age from 28 to 64 years old, also include a jazz violinist, a painter and a playwright, among others.

Other winners:

  • A master glassblower from New York, a deep-sea explorer from Florida and a Harvard University professor from Argentina who is working to uncover the early history of the cosmos
  • Kevin Eggan, 32, an expert in embryonic stem cells and somatic cell nuclear transfer, otherwise known as therapeutic cloning.
  • Mr. D. Holmes Morton, 55, is a pediatrician who studies inherited disorders in rural Strasburg, Pa. Along with his wife, Caroline, Morton founded the nonprofit Clinic for Special Children, which has reduced child mortality in Lancaster County's Amish and Mennonite communities.
  • Australian Terence Tao, 31, the fellowship comes weeks after the UCLA professor won the Fields Medal, often described as the "Nobel Prize of math."
  • Sarah Ruhl, 32, from New York, playwright was a finalist last year for a Pulitzer Prize for the play "The Clean House." She said the fellowship will give her the freedom to pick projects she is passionate about.

Dr. Atul Gawande

NRI Dr. Atul Gawande was born on November 5, 1965 in Brooklyn, NY. His parents are from India and both doctors.

  • He grew up in Athens, OH with his sister. He is a Rhodes scholar and attended Harvard Medical School after obtaining an undergraduate degree at Stanford. He also has a Master of Public Health from the Harvard School of Public Health.
  • He is also an editor at the New England Journal of Medicine. In the medical field, he is a leading expert on the removal of cancerous endocrine glands. These impressive accomplishments have paved the way for Gawande to be named as one of the 20 Most Influential South Asians by Newsweek Magazine.
  • Dr. Gawande lives in Newton, Massachusetts and has three children.
  • Education
    M.P.H., 1999, Harvard School of Public Health
    M.D., 1995, Harvard Medical School
    M.A., 1989, Oxford University
    B.A.S., 1987, Stanford University

He has written extensively on medicine and public health for The New Yorker magazine and the online magazine Slate. His essays have appeared in The Best American Essays 2002 and The Best American Science Writing 2002. His book, Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science. was a National Book Award finalist.

Research Interests
Atul Gawande and his colleagues have focused their research on problems at the intersection of surgery and public health.
Much of their work has examined error in surgery, establishing its frequency and seriousness and revealing underlying mechanisms. Ongoing work ranges from observation research on performance and safety in the operating room to studies of medical malpractice claims to the development of technologies to prevent surgeons from inadvertently leaving sponges or instruments in patients. A newer area of research concerns the current state of care in developing countries for illness requiring surgery or other high technology interventions.


  • AA Gawande. Complications: A Surgeon’s Notes on an Imperfect Science. New York: Metropolitan Books; 2002. Paperback publication: New York, Picador USA, April, 2003. Audio publication: New York, Audio Renaissance, April 2003. Also published in 17 languages and more than 100 countries.
  • The Malpractice Mess. The New Yorker. November 14, 2005.
  • Perspective. Naked. The New England Journal of Medicine. 2005;353(7)645-648.
  • Piecework. The New Yorker. April 4, 2005.
  • Accidental deaths, saved lives and improved quality. The New England Journal of Medicine. 2005;353(13):1405-9.
  • The Bell Curve. The New Yorker. December 6, 2004.
  • Perspective. Notes of a surgeon: Casualties of war - Military care for the wounded from Iraq and Afghanistan. The On washing hands. The New England Journal of Medicine. 2004;350(13):1283-6.
  • The Mop-Up. The New Yorker, January 12, 2004.
  • Notes of a surgeon: Dispatch from India. The New England Journal of Medicine 2003;349(25):2383-2386.
  • Improving safety with information technology. New England Journal of Medicine 2003;348(25):2526-34.
  • Desperate Measures. The New Yorker, May 5, 2003.
  • Creating the educated surgeon in the twenty-first century. American Journal of Surgery 2001;181(6):551-556.
  • Analysis of errors reported by surgeons at three teaching hospitals. Surgery 2003;133:614-621.
  • Risk factors for retained instruments and sponges after surgery. New England Journal of Medicine 2003;348(3):229-235.
  • Error in medicine: what have we learned? Annals of Internal Medicine 2000;132:763-767.
  • The impact of the internet on quality measurement. Health Affairs 2000;19(6):104-114.
  • The incidence and nature of surgical adverse events in Colorado and Utah in 1992. Surgery 1999;126(1):66-75.
  • Does dissatisfaction with health plans stem from having no choices during enrollment? Health Affairs, 1998;17(5):184-194.

His new book, Complications, Atul Gawande describes the tasks of the men and women of the medical trade in a way that many may find unsettling: "We drug people, put needles and tubes into them, manipulate their chemistry, biology, and physics, lay them unconscious and open their bodies up to the world." This sentence has none of the antiseptic, doctor-as-deity gloss with which medicine is often painted; a slow cultural shift over the past twenty years, led by television (from St. Elsewhere to E.R), has been humanizing our view of the practice of medicine, and Gawande's book is perhaps the biggest and most convincing step in that direction so far.




Dr. Atul Gawande

Despite the nearly exponential growth in medical knowledge and care—in fields of genetics, molecular biology and a whole host of other technical advances—there seems to be a considerable amount of discontent among patients.