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Vivien Thomas​

Vivien Theodore Thomas (August 29, 1910 – November 26, 1985) was born in New Iberia, Louisiana. He was an American laboratory supervisor who developed a procedure used to treat blue baby syndrome (now known as cyanotic heart disease) in the 1940s. He was the assistant to surgeon Alfred Blalock in Blalock's experimental animal laboratory at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, and later at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. Thomas was unique in that he did not have any professional education or experience in a research laboratory; however, he served as supervisor of the surgical laboratories at Johns Hopkins for 35 years. In 1976, Hopkins awarded him an honorary doctorate and named him an instructor of surgery for the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Without any education past high school, Thomas rose above poverty and racism to become a cardiac surgery pioneer and a teacher of operative techniques to many of the country's most prominent surgeons. Vanderbilt University Medical Center created the Vivien A. Thomas Award for Excellence in Clinical Research, recognizing excellence in conducting clinical research.