Skip to Main Content

Tulane University's Contributions to Health Sciences research and education: A Guide: Dr. E. W. Alton Ochsner, Sr.

Distinguished Tulane Medical and Public Health Faculty and Tulane Health Sciences Alumni. Selected highlights on their contributions to medical science.

Ochsner, Alton, 1896-1981‏ (Photo)

Alton Ochsner, Sr. Surgeon

Alton Ochsner Sr., M.D.

Chairman, Department of Surgery, 1926 - 1956

Alton Ochsner Sr., M.D. founder of the Ochsner Medical Foundation, graduated from the Tulane School of Medicine and served on the faculty from 1926-1956. During this period he demonstrated the link between smoking and lung cancer. - Tulane Medical Center, History in Review 1834-1984 - newspaper supplement

A man whose sparkling eyes and winning smile endeared him to all who knew him, he undertook heavy responsibilities at an early stage in his career. Recognition of his astute intellect and leadership qualities led to his appointment, at the age of 31 years, to the chairmanship of the Department of Surgery at Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans to succeed the world-renowned Dr Rudolph Matas. There he rose to national and international prominence as he organized a prestigious department of highly capable and distinguished surgeons acclaimed for their teaching, research, and patient care activities. - DeBakey ME. Historical perspectives of The American Association for Thoracic Surgery: Alton Ochsner, MD (1896-1981). J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. (2005 September) 130(3):875-6.

While a young medical student at Washington University, Alton Ochsner observed the autopsy of a lung cancer victim. His professor impressed upon him the rarity of such a case.

Years later, while at Tulane, Dr. Ochsner remembered that lesson when he began to notice a dramatic increase in the number of lung cancer cases he dealt with. He discovered that smoking was not prevalent prior to World War I, when machine-made cigarettes first came into wide-spread use. As a result, Ochsner became the first to link smoking with lung cancer.

  • Alton Ochsner, surgeon of the South / John Wilds and Ira Harkey. Baton Rouge : Louisiana State University Press, c1990.
  • New Orleans Medical & Surgical Journal (1927) 79:703
  • Obit.  OPMS Bulletin (1981) 52(11):10-11.
  • New Orleans Magazine 15:22-28,34-38.
  • Tulane Medicine (March/April 1985) 16(1):6
  • Tulanian (Winter 1981) 52(5): 55

Papers in Historic New Orleans Collection

Alton Ochsner Papers (Mss 240). Manuscripts Division. The Historic New Orleans Collection (533 Royal Street, New Orleans)

See PubMed for a list of historic articles on "Ochsner A"[PS]

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.