Founding Chairman of the Department of Anesthesiology at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, He Made Numerous Contributions to Advance the Specialty

Newswise — NEW YORK (Dec. 29, 2011) -- Dr. Joseph F. Artusio Jr., the founding chairman of the Department of Anesthesiology and anesthesiologist-in-chief at what is today known as Weill Cornell Medical College and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, died on Dec. 21 at the age of 94.

Dr. Artusio spent his entire career at the Medical Center and was its highest ranking anesthesiologist for 42 years. He made major contributions to the field of anesthesia, including the development of anesthetic techniques for early surgery on the heart and research into non-flammable anesthetic agents. He was also greatly admired for his skills as a clinician and educator.

Dr. Artusio was the first to define the sequence of amnesia and analgesia with di-ethyl ether in patients undergoing cardiac surgery. This proved to be a forerunner for the light anesthesia produced by narcotics and tranquilizers in modern cardiac surgery. And he was a major player in the development and initial clinical use of edrophonium (Tensilon) in 1950, and of methoxyflurane in 1961.

Born in Jersey City, N.J., in 1917, Dr. Artusio graduated from Saint Peter's College in 1939 and received his medical degree from Cornell University Medical College in 1943. After completing his internship at Bellevue Hospital in 1944, he served in the U.S. Army Medical Corps for two years. Dr. Artusio came to The New York Hospital as a resident in anesthesiology in 1946. The following year, he became assistant attending anesthesiologist at the Hospital and instructor in surgery at the Medical College. After serving as assistant professor of surgery from 1948 to 1952, he became successively associate professor of surgery, professor of anesthesiology in surgery and professor of anesthesiology in obstetrics and gynecology. From 1948 to 1957, he was attending anesthesiologist-in-charge. In 1957, he was appointed to anesthesiologist-in-chief. In 1967, he was named to be the first chairman of the newly created Department of Anesthesiology. At his retirement in 1993, he was named professor emeritus at Cornell University Medical College and honorary staff at New York Hospital.

Among Dr. Artusio's numerous publications are two textbooks that he co-authored: “Practical Anesthesiology” (1962) and “Anesthesiology: Problem-Oriented Patient Management” (1984); the latter is widely used by anesthesiology residents and is available in numerous languages. He was editor-in-chief of the journal Clinical Anesthesia from 1963 to 1973, served as president of the Cornell University Medical College Alumni Association from 1963 to 1973, and president of The New York Hospital Medical Board from 1982 to 1984. He was active in numerous professional societies, including as founding member and chairman of the Society of Academic Anesthesia, chairman of the American Society of Anesthesiologists Committee on Continuing Education, general chairman of the New York Society of Anesthesiology Post-Graduate Assembly, governor of the American College of Anesthesiologists, and secretary of the Anesthesia Foundation. He was also an examiner of the American Board of Anesthesiology and a member of the American Society of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics and the International Association for the Study of Pain.

Among his honors are the Maurice Greenberg Distinguished Service Award, the Medical Center's highest honor, in 1988, as well as the Alumni Award of Distinction. In 1989, a professorship was established in his name, and is currently held by his successor, Dr. John Joseph Savarese.

Dr. Artusio was a resident of Pelham, N.Y. for more than 50 years. He was known as a consummate gentleman, and a man of faith and conscience who was devoted to his family. He is survived by three daughters: Marianne, Suzanne and Evelyn; and three sons: Joseph F. III, Mark and Douglas.

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical CenterNewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, located in New York City, is one of the leading academic medical centers in the world, comprising the teaching hospital NewYork-Presbyterian and Weill Cornell Medical College, the medical school of Cornell University. NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell provides state-of-the-art inpatient, ambulatory and preventive care in all areas of medicine, and is committed to excellence in patient care, education, research and community service. Weill Cornell physician-scientists have been responsible for many medical advances -- including the development of the Pap test for cervical cancer; the synthesis of penicillin; the first successful embryo-biopsy pregnancy and birth in the U.S.; the first clinical trial for gene therapy for Parkinson's disease; the first indication of bone marrow's critical role in tumor growth; and, most recently, the world's first successful use of deep brain stimulation to treat a minimally conscious brain-injured patient. NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital also comprises NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, NewYork-Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Westchester Division and NewYork-Presbyterian/The Allen Hospital. NewYork-Presbyterian is the #1 hospital in the New York metropolitan area and is consistently ranked among the best academic medical institutions in the nation, according to U.S.News & World Report. Weill Cornell Medical College is the first U.S. medical college to offer a medical degree overseas and maintains a strong global presence in Austria, Brazil, Haiti, Tanzania, Turkey and Qatar. For more information, visit and

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