In Memoriam: Pioneer in Thoracic Surgery and Former Chair of Surgery at Yale

Gustaf E. Lindskog, M.D., the William H. Carmalt Professor of Surgery and former chair of Surgery at Yale School of Medicine, died on August 4 at age 99.

Widely recognized for his contributions to the field of thoracic surgery, Lindskog taught at Yale from 1930 to 1932 and rejoined the faculty in 1933 after a year as a National Research Council Fellow at the Massachusetts General Hospital. He was chair of the Department of Surgery at Yale and also surgeon-in-chief of the Grace-New Haven Community Hospital University Service from 1948 to 1966. He was a consultant to the Veterans Administration Hospital, as well as to many community hospitals in Connecticut, including Greenwich Hospital.

The author of hundreds of research articles on the anatomy and physiology of the lung in health and disease, Lindskog co-authored with Averill Liebow and William Glenn the seminal textbook in thoracic surgery, “Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery & Related Pathology,” which is now in its 11th edition. He also wrote many papers on lung cancer and its treatment, and was a pioneer in the surgical resection of chronic pulmonary abscess.

According to Glenn, Lindskog came at a time in the evolution of surgical education when the surgical specialties were being recognized as independent units and he separated them from the previously general surgical category into the individual specialties.

“One of his great contributions to medicine and to Yale in particular was his recognition of the need for independence of the surgical specialty groups,” said Glenn. “He had a long and fruitful tenure at Yale. He was a superb teacher, splendid physician and a man of the utmost integrity and was tremendously admired by those who worked with him and under him.”

Lindskog served for four years as a Lieutenant Commander in the Medical Corps of the United States Navy during World War II. While at Yale, he was involved in the first application of penicillin in the United States and later in the first application of chemotherapy for lung cancer.

He was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1903. He received his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Massachusetts in 1923 and his M.D. degree cum laude from Harvard University in 1928. He held memberships in the American Surgical Association, Society of Clinical Surgery; American Association for Thoracic Surgery; New England Surgical Society; and he was a fellow of the American College of Surgeons. He was also a member of the National Research Council’s Committee on Naval Medical Research and was the Representative of the American Surgical Association to the National Research Council, Division of Medical Sciences from 1963 to 1966. Lindskog served on the editorial boards of the Archives of Surgery and the Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences.

The resident surgeons who trained under Lindskog’s direction went on to become full-time teachers of surgery and private practitioners.

Lindskog is survived by twin sons, David of Old Greenwich and Carl of New Haven, both Yale ‘58; five grandchildren including Dieter, Yale ‘93 and Stefanie, Yale 2000; and four great grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The Dr. G.E. Lindskog Memorial Fund, Hopkins School, 986 Forest Road, New Haven, Conn. 06515.

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