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H. Brownell Wheeler, MD

H. Brownell Wheeler, MD, is the Harry M. Haidak Distinguished Professor of Surgery emeritus at the UMass Chan Medical School (UMass Chan). In 1971, he became the founding chair of the UMass Chan Department of Surgery and served in this position until 1996. He also served as Chief of Staff of the University of Massachusetts Hospital from 1974 to 1976, the period during which the hospital was staffed, equipped and opened for patient care.

Dr. Wheeler’s principal professional interests have included vascular surgery, deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism, and medical education. He also has interests in medical history and the medical humanities. With a current focus on improving end-of-life care, Dr. Wheeler lectures extensively on this topic. He has served as chair of the Massachusetts Medical Society’s Committee on Compassionate Care and as a founding member and President of the Massachusetts Compassionate Care Coalition. He has helped to introduce a new course promoting excellence in end-of-life care into the medical student curriculum. He has also obtained funding for research in end-of-life care.

A 1952 graduate of Harvard Medical School, Dr. Wheeler completed his surgical training at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital and the West Roxbury Veterans Administration Hospital. At Harvard Medical School, he was a Harvey Cushing Fellow, a George Gorham Peters Fellow and a U.S. Public Health Service Fellow. He also served a fellowship at St. Mary’s Hospital in London. He was an Associate Professor of Surgery at Harvard and Chief of Surgery at the West Roxbury VA Hospital before joining UMass Chan. He also served as Chief of Surgery at St. Vincent Hospital from 1971 – 1975.

A member of numerous professional societies, Dr. Wheeler has served as a Director of the American Board of Surgery and a Governor of the American College of Surgeons. He has also served as President of the Boston Surgical Society, the New England Surgical Society, and the New England Society of Vascular Surgery, as well as the Massachusetts Chapter of the American College of Surgeons. In 2000 he was named President of the Worcester District Medical Society. Dr. Wheeler has made presentations to medical audiences both in this country and in Europe, and has written for major scientific publications, including the Journal of the American Medical Association, Annals of Surgery, the American Journal of Physiology, the British Medical Journal, and the New England Journal of Medicine. In 1984, he received the Distinguished Service Medal of the University of Massachusetts. In 1990, he was selected to give the Centennial Shattuck Lecture to the Massachusetts Medical Society.