In Memoriam: Joseph E. Murray, 1919-2012

By , December 3, 2012
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Dr. Joseph E. Murray

The Center was saddened to learn of the passing of Dr. Joseph E. Murray on Monday at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Dr. Murray is best known for performing the first successful organ transplantation in 1954, for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1990. A graduate of Holy Cross (A.B., 1940) and Harvard Medical School (M.D.,1943), Murray served at Valley Forge General Hospital in the Army Medical Corps during World War II. It was there, observing how donor skin grafts on badly burned soldiers were rejected by their bodies, that Murray first became interested in transplantation. In 1962 he performed the first cadaveric renal transplantation, utilizing the newly developed immunosuppressant drug Azathioprine. Despite his role in organ transplantation, Murray spent the majority of his career in the field of plastic surgery, serving as the head of plastic surgery at the Brigham and at Children’s Hospital, as well as director of the Surgical Research Laboratory at Harvard Medical School (an earlier Center blog post about transplantation and Dr. Murray’s involvement with the Surgical Research Laboratory can be found here).

Obituaries for Dr. Murray can be found at boston.com, the New York Times and the Washington Post. His autobiography, Surgery of the Soul, was published in 2001.

The Center holds the Joseph E. Murray Papers, which are currently being processed for research access. The collection is expected to be open to researchers in early 2013. Below are selected images from the collection.

Murray with wife Virginia and children

Murray with wife Virginia and children

Dr. Murray with Herrick twins and the Brigham hospital transplant team

Dr. Murray with Herrick twins and the Brigham hospital transplant team

Murray on HMS Quad with transplant dogs

Murray on HMS Quad with transplant dogs

Murray with collaborator and fellow Nobel Laureate George Hitchings

Murray with collaborator and fellow Nobel Laureate George Hitchings

Francis D. Moore, Joseph Murray, and George Thorn

Francis D. Moore, Joseph Murray, and George Thorn

Murray with Pope John Paul II

Murray with Pope John Paul II

Murray and brother William at Milford War Memorial

Murray and brother William at Milford War Memorial

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