Max Harry Weil

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: (Published 04 October 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d6362
  1. Ned Stafford
  1. ns{at}

Founded the specialty of critical care medicine

As Max Harry Weil rushed into his office to interview a waiting fellowship candidate, he looked more like an overworked intern than a renowned medical researcher. It was 1972, and Weil was head of the Center for the Critically Ill at the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles, and founding president and driving force of the newly formed Society of Critical Care Medicine.

The waiting fellowship candidate, Arnold Aberman, recalled, “He bounded in full of energy and dressed in green scrubs and told me he had just intubated a patient. Heads usually wore suits and spent time in their offices and let the juniors do the work.” Professor Aberman, who later became chairman of the department of medicine and dean of faculty at the University of Toronto, added, “This was a good sign: he was not your usual professor.”

And Weil’s centre was not your typical university affiliated research centre. Instead of being located at a major teaching hospital, swarming with professors, Weil’s centre, also known as the USC Shock Research Unit, was hidden away at Hollywood Presbyterian …

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