Friday, January 9, 2009

In memoriam: Alan D. Hilgenberg, MD

Alan D. Hilgenberg, MD

Alan D. Hilgenberg, MD, co-director of the Thoracic Aortic Center at Mass General

Alan D. Hilgenberg, MD, co-director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Thoracic Aortic Center and a renowned expert on thoracic aortic aneurysms, passed away Dec. 25 after a long fight with pancreatic cancer. He was 64 years old.

A leader in the field of cardiothoracic surgery, Hilgenberg was an expert in the surgical management of thoracic aortic aneurysms. In 1999, he was named co-director of the newly created Mass General Center for Thoracic Aortic Surgery, which brought together the fields of cardiology, cardiothoracic surgery, vascular surgery and vascular radiology. Under Hilgenberg's leadership, the center quickly established itself as a model for integrated research and laid the foundation for the later development of both the Mass General Hospital Heart Center and Vascular Center.

A native of Parkston, South Dakota, Hilgenberg received his bachelor's degree from the University of South Dakota. After graduating with honors from the University of Michigan Medical School, he came to Mass General in1969 as a resident in Surgery. Following service in the Army Medical Corps from 1971 to 1973, Hilgenberg returned to Mass General to resume his training and was named chief resident in Cardiothoracic Surgery in 1976.

After spending time in Denver, he returned to Boston in 1981 and worked primarily at Mount Auburn Hospital, at the time a Mass General satellite practice. He had been at Mass General full-time since 1996 and was appointed a clinical professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School in 2006.

Hilgenberg is survived by his wife, Anne Kolker, MD, an anesthesiologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York who trained at Mass General; his mother, Ruth, his children Mark, Matthew, Kate, Sarah and James Priest; his grandson, Bennett; his first wife, Joanna; and other family members, colleagues and friends.

Funeral services were held Dec. 29. Gifts in his memory may be sent to Thoracic Aortic Center c/o of the Mass General Hospital Development Office, 165 Cambridge St., Suite 600, Boston, MA 02114.

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