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Former Head of Health Sciences Division, Henrik H. Bendixen, Dies
Henrik Bendixen

Henrik H. Bendixen, 80, former vice president in charge of Columbia University's medical, dental, nursing, and public health schools, died April 4 at his home in Rancho Mirage, Calif.

"He brought rare qualities to the position of vice president and dean, and he made even rarer contributions while on the job," said Gerald D. Fischbach, Executive Vice President for Health and Biomedical Sciences and dean of the Faculty of Medicine. "We extend our condolences to his family and friends and pledge to continue to honor his legacy to Columbia University."

Bendixen was born in 1923 in Fredriksberg, Denmark , and graduated from medical school at the University of Copenhagen. He completed his internship and residency in Denmark and Sweden , interrupted briefly by a tour of duty on the Danish Hospital Ship in Korea . In 1954, he arrived in the United States for a residency in anesthesia at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. He stayed at the hospital and in 1957 joined the faculty of Harvard Medical School, holding both of those positions until 1969. After four years as professor and department chief of anesthesia at the University of California, San Diego, medical director of University Hospital, and consultant to the U.S. Naval Hospital in San Diego, Bendixen joined the faculty of Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1973 as professor and chairman of anesthesiology and director of the anesthesiology service at Presbyterian Hospital.

In 1980, Bendixen served for nine months as acting provost and vice president for the health sciences at Columbia , returning to the faculty in 1984 as Alumni Professor. He later was named the E.M. Papper Professor of Anesthesiology.

His leadership of Columbia's health sciences division -- as vice president for health sciences and dean of the Faculty of Medicine -- began in 1984. His tenure was punctuated by a growing reliance on information technology. He was instrumental in establishing the computer network at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center.

When Columbia University decided to eliminate the School of Nursing to cut costs, Bendixen stepped in to argue for its continuation. A professorship in the School of Nursing is named for him.

He also supported the establishment of the Office of Clinical Trials, a joint program with New York-Presbyterian Hospital that was one of the first offices of its kind and today is one of the most often replicated clinical trials offices in the world.

As professor and chairman of anesthesiology, he published several scholarly papers on respiratory and circulatory physiology, the clinical problems of hypoxia and respiratory failure, intensive care medicine, and the cost-effectiveness of health care. The Department of Anesthesiology established the Henrik H. Bendixen Professorship to honor his contributions.

When he stepped down in 1989, he became senior associate vice president for health sciences and senior associate dean of the Faculty of Medicine until his retirement in 1994, when he was named professor emeritus of anesthesiology.

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Published: Apr 08, 2004
Last modified: Jan 10, 2005

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