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Dr. Bernard Lown, Lewiston High Grad Who Was Awarded Nobel Peace Prize, Dies At 99

Dr. Bernard Lown

Dr. Bernard Lown, a Lithuanian-born Nobel Peace Prize recipient, cardiologist and inventor who attended school in Maine, has died at the age of 99.

Lown helped advance cardiac treatment as a professor at Harvard University and as a physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. He invented the direct-current defibrillator, or cardioverter, for resuscitation.

Lown was also an outspoken social activist, founding Physicians for Social Responsibility and later co-founding International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, the latter of which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985.

In an interview on Maine Public Television in 2008, Lown said that in order to accomplish feats, a person needs to take risks in life.

“You see most people live petty lives because they’re afraid. They’re afraid that they’ll be criticized. They’re afraid to be wrong. I want to be wrong, because by being wrong, I learn how to be right,” he said.

Lown was born in Lithuania in 1921, and moved with his family to Lewiston as a young teen, where he attended high school. He went on to attend the University of Maine.

The Boston Globe reports that Lown’s health had been declining from congestive heart failure.

In recognition of his time in Maine, and his Nobel Prize, a bridge between Lewiston and Auburn is named the Bernard Lown Peace Bridge.

Lown told Maine Public Television in 2008 that the dedication came as a “great surprise,” but that it fits with what he tried to do in his life: make connections between people.

“Patient with the doctor, the doctor with the patient, the Soviet with American, the developed — the poor world with the rich world, to create that connection. To create bridges. So it’s in a way again emblematic of what my life was all about,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.