Nina braunwald: A female pioneer in cardiac surgery

Nikhil Sabharwal, Harmanjit Dev, Hassiba Smail, David C. McGiffin, Pankaj Saxena

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleOtherpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Nina Starr Braunwald, the first female cardiac surgeon, made headlines during a time when almost all specialty surgeons were men. Women have typically been deterred from entering surgical specialties, in part because of their traditional dual burden of managing their households and careers. Instead, female medical students and junior doctors have tended to be more attracted to medical specialties. This was the reality during Dr. Braunwald’s venture into medicine in 1949. However, she never allowed negative ideas to keep her from joining a surgical training program. Under the mentorship of the prominent cardiac surgeons Charles Hufnagel and Andrew Morrow, Dr. Braunwald progressed in her career by conducting research that led to her development and implantation of the first prosthetic mitral valve. She was also a great teacher. Dr. Braunwald balanced her personal and professional activities admirably, and her example still inspires female doctors to consider careers in cardiothoracic surgery. In this report, we provide details of her impact on cardiac surgery and insights into her successes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)96-100
Number of pages5
JournalTexas Heart Institute Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • 20th century
  • Braunwald NS
  • Cardiac surgical procedures/history
  • Heart valve prosthe-sis/history
  • Heart-lung machine
  • History
  • Physicians
  • Thoracic surgery/history
  • United States
  • Women/history

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