COLLEGE STATION, TX – There has been no bigger contributor to the battle against heart disease than Dr. Michael E. DeBakey, cardiovascular surgeon and medical pioneer. Although upon his death Friday evening he will no longer be found in the surgical suites of the Texas Medical Center, his name and his passion for saving lives will live on in the institute that bears his name at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences.
“The Michael E. DeBakey Institute for Comparative Cardiovascular Science and Biomedical Devices has been a cornerstone of our research at the college,” said Dr. H. Richard Adams, dean of veterinary medicine. “While we pause to pay respect to a legendary surgeon, we also recommit ourselves to continuing his good work. Heart disease is not just a human condition, and it affects thousands of companion animals every year. The innovative partnerships that have made up the DeBakey Institute over the last nine years have led to new and novel treatments and advanced technology that continues to save lives today.”
The DeBakey Institute was founded by Dr. Theresa Fossum, a veterinary cardiothoracic surgeon at the CVM. Fossum’s early research into spontaneously occurring heart disease in animals led to a very productive relationship with DeBakey who was looking for a way to begin testing the biomedical devices he invented. Although housed at the CVM, the DeBakey institute embodies research collaborations with the College of Science and the Dwight Look College of Engineering at Texas A&M University, the Baylor College of Medicine, and the UT Health Science Center in Houston. Under the leadership of director Dr. Glen A. Laine, the institute continues its investigation into the causes and prevention of heart disease, whether that is in humans or spontaneously occurring in animals.
“Biomedical devices require extensive testing in animals prior to the beginning of human trials,” said Laine. “As Texas’ only veterinary medical college and veterinary teaching hospital, by locating at the college, the DeBakey Institute is uniquely positioned to impact both animal and human health as we study heart disease across multiple species.”
While Dr. DeBakey will be missed, the impact he has made through the tens of thousands of lives saved (both human and animal) will be felt for an eternity.