MacArthur Fellows Program

MacArthur Fellows / Meet the Class of 2006

Atul Gawande

Surgeon and Author

Assistant Professor of Surgery

Harvard Medical School / Brigham & Women's Hospital

Boston, Massachusetts

Age: 40 at time of award

Published September 1, 2006

Atul Gawande is a surgeon and author who applies a critical eye to modern surgical practice, articulating its realities, complexities, and challenges. His book, Complications (2002), illuminates the concerns and problems faced by the surgeon-in-training with insight and compassion. In articles published in professional journals and mainstream periodicals, Gawande scrutinizes the culture, protocol, and technology of modern medical practice from the perspective of a dedicated and empathetic professional. In all his published work, he brings fresh and unique perspective, clarity, and intuition to the field. Recognizing the reality of human failures in an imperfect craft, Gawande is equally energetic and imaginative in the identification of practical changes and solutions. Among his innovations are bar codes to prevent surgeons from inadvertently leaving sponges and instruments in patients and a simple score of one to ten indicating the likelihood of complications. Through initiatives at the Center for Surgery and Public Health at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, newly established to study and improve surgical safety here and abroad, Gawande is giving leadership to the identification of numerous other bold enhancements to surgical protocol that will both improve practice and save lives.

Atul Gawande received a B.A.S. (1987) from Stanford University, an M.A. (1989) from the University of Oxford, an M.D. (1995) from Harvard Medical School, and an M.P.H. (1999) from Harvard School of Public Health. Since 2003, he has been an assistant professor in the Department of Surgery at Harvard Medical School and a surgeon in the Division of General and Gastrointestinal Surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Since 2004, he has also served as an assistant professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at Harvard School of Public Health and as assistant director of the Center for Surgery and Public Health at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Gawande is a staff writer for the New Yorker and writes the “Notes of a Surgeon” column for the New England Journal of Medicine.


High-resolution photos for download. Photos are owned by the MacArthur Foundation and licensed under a Creative Commons license: CC-BY. Credit: John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Right-click on a link below to save the file to your computer.

Atul Gawande In the Media

About the Fellows Program

The MacArthur Fellows Program awards unrestricted fellowships to talented individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction. Learn More

Ellen Bryant Voigt, Poet

Class of 2015

2006 MacArthur Fellows Announced

MacArthur Foundation today named 25 new MacArthur Fellows for 2006. The new Fellows work across a broad spectrum of endeavors. Read More