Loren Hiratzka ’66, 2011 Distinguished Achievement Award

Loren Hiratzka, Class of 1966, you are among the most highly respected surgeons practicing in the field of cardiac-thoracic surgery. You have made contributions as a researcher, as a teacher and presenter, and most importantly as a member of more than 30 national committees that guide doctors’ efforts to reduce cardiovascular disease and improve the heart health of all Americans.

View the award presentation and acceptance speech

Loren Hiratzka ’66
Loren Hiratzka ’66 and Cornell President Jonathan Brand.

You remain relentless in your drive to educate health care providers, having delivered nearly 300 professional presentations, papers, book chapters, and abstracts. Your passion, however, is developing guidelines for the practice of medicine and surgery. You have participated in many of the practice guideline writing committees, review groups, and parent taskforces in your field since the mid-1990s. From 2000 to 2005 you served on the American College of Cardiology-American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines, the first effort in the field to carefully examine evidence-based practice. The results have not only improved health care, they have formed the basis for accreditation and quality measurement of hospitals and practitioners.

Your efforts have been widely recognized, most recently with the 2010 Distinguished Achievement Award from the American Heart Association Council on Cardiovascular Surgery and Anesthesia. In 2006, you received the American Heart Association Chairman’s Award for exemplary volunteer service, and, in 2001, you received its Samuel Kaplan Visionary Award from the Cincinnati division for excellence in cardiovascular science.

Born in Detroit, you grew up the son of a nurse and a medical pathologist, and received your first microscope at age 4. You were the first of three siblings to enroll at Cornell, where you were mentored by Biology Professor, Francis Pray. As a young man, you discovered you were named for the Dean of Stanford Medical School, who interceded when your father, a Japanese immigrant, was in medical school and his family was moved to a Japanese relocation prison.

You earned your M.D. from the University of Iowa in 1970, and completed an internship and a residency at the Los Angeles County Harbor General Hospital. While in California, you served in the Air Force as Chief of General Therapy Clinics at Vandenberg Air Force Base. In 1977, you returned to the University of Iowa, ultimately becoming part of the team that performed the state’s first heart transplant. In 1986, you began practice in the Cincinnati area, with Cardiac, Vascular and Thoracic Surgeons, Inc., and now serve as medical director, cardiac surgery, at TriHealth, which includes Bethesda North and Good Samaritan Hospitals.

Your life and work epitomize the mission of Cornell to empower graduates for leadership through productive careers and service in the global community. In recognition, the college and the Alumni Association present you with their highest joint honor. We hereby bestow upon you, Loren Hiratzka, the Distinguished Achievement Award.