NYU Medical Center Mourns the Passing of Stephen B. Colvin M.D.

March 9, 2008 (All day)

Dear Colleagues,

It is with deep sorrow that I am writing to inform you that Stephen B. Colvin, M.D., passed away suddenly yesterday evening. I know from the reactions of those of us who learned of this tragedy over the weekend that this news will cause grief and shock to all who knew him.

Founding Chairman of our Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Dr. Colvin had an unswerving commitment to improving surgical techniques that revolutionized heart surgery. He pioneered mitral valve repair surgery in the United States and led the world in perfecting minimally invasive heart surgery methods, allowing complicated, life-saving surgery to be performed with less pain, less scarring, and remarkably accelerated recoveries. A surgeon who was often heard to say that he had always liked to "take care of the more difficult and challenging things that people have wrong with their hearts," he estimated a number of years ago that he had performed more than 10,000 heart operations. His youngest patient was one-day old. The oldest one we know about was 98.

Under Dr. Colvin's direction, NYU's Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery grew to perform more than 1,800 cases annually at three hospitals, and expanded to include programs in pediatric cardiac surgery and high risk adult surgery. He also built one of the nation's finest training and research programs.

In addition to extending and improving the lives of a staggering number of his own patients, Steve was widely celebrated for saving tens of thousands more, by sharing the techniques he helped invent with surgeons from around the world. The satellite conferences he and his colleagues conducted reached from Montana to Louisiana here at home, and to countries as far-flung as Israel and China.

Steve was also a remarkable humanitarian, performing heart surgery on desperately ill children across the globe, in collaboration with several international non-profit organizations. His vision and passion to help young children with heart disease led him to co-found Project Kids Worldwide, a non-profit organization that provides life-saving surgery and improved medical treatment for impoverished children with congenital and acquired heart disease from medically underserved regions of the world.

Dr. Colvin, who completed five years of surgical training and two years of specialized training in cardiothoracic surgery at our Medical Center and a fellowship at the NIH, had been a member of our faculty since 1978. He was a fellow of the American College of Cardiology and the American College of Surgeons, and a member of numerous professional organizations, including the Society of Thoracic Surgeons, the American Association of Thoracic Surgeons, the Thoracic Surgery Directors Association, and the Cardiovascular Surgery Council of the American Heart Association.

Steve's death is a terrible loss to us, both as individuals and as members of the Medical Center Community. I know you join me in offering our deepest sympathy to his wife, children, and entire family, as well as to his immediate colleagues.

Funeral services will be held tomorrow, Monday, March 10, at 10:00 a.m. at Riverside Chapel, 76th Street and Amsterdam Avenue. The Medical Center will be lowering flags to half staff for a week in his honor, and will be holding a memorial service in the near future.


Robert I. Grossman, M.D.

Dean & CEO


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