Change Agent

Tom P. Aufderheide, MD, GME '86, MS '13

Dr. Aufderheide is professor of emergency medicine, associate chair of research affairs and director of the NIH-funded Resuscitation Research Center in the department of emergency medicine at MCW.

Tom P. Aufderheide, MDDr. Aufderheide is an internationally recognized researcher in the field of emergency cardiac care and resuscitation. He has acted as principal investigator on automated external defibrillation (AED) research studies that have doubled survival rates for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. Continuously supported by the NIH more than 20 years, his research has greatly impacted care of cardiac emergencies.

His research has further influenced guidelines for international CPR education, training and clinical practice. He has played a key role in creating coursework for the American Heart Association, CPR and AED training. In 2009, he was elected to the prestigious Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.

Dr. Aufderheide also serves as medical director of the Translational Research Units of the Clinical and Translational Science Institute of Southeast Wisconsin.

– Samantha Cavallo

What Drives You?

As an emergency physician and clinician scientist, I strive to improve emergency medicine clinical practice through collaborative translational research. Ultimately, I am driven by the opportunity to increase survival and quality of life for patients with emergent cardiac conditions.

What Has Been the Highlight of Your Career?

One of the first highlights of my career was conceiving, pioneering and establishing out-of-hospital 12-lead electrocardiography as a standard of care for rapid identification and treatment of the ischemic patient. This approach has reduced mortality from acute myocardial infarction by 38% worldwide. A second highlight was the discovery of the detrimental hemodynamic effects of hyperventilation and incomplete chest recoil during CPR as well as the importance of electronic monitoring of CPR performance. Third was the discovery of improved hemodynamics during CPR through intra-thoracic pressure regulation. These discoveries have changed international clinical practice and resulted in a 52% improvement in functionally favorable survival from cardiac arrest.

What Do You Still Hope to Accomplish Over Your Career?

I am participating in the discovery of several simple techniques that profoundly reduce ischemia reperfusion injury in an animal model of prolonged cardiac arrest, thereby significantly improving neurologically intact survival. I hope to translate the application of these potentially life-saving techniques to humans.

What Would You Like Your MCW Legacy to Be?

My MCW legacy will be the successful discovery of new interventions that improve emergency cardiac care clinical practice, patient survival and quality of life through multi-disciplinary translational research.

What One Piece of Advice Would You Like to Share With Your Colleagues?

Time is the best test of a good idea.

Change Agent highlights a Medical College of Wisconsin faculty or staff member who has had significant impact on the institution's mission to be a leading innovator in transforming healthcare and advancing the health of our communities.

The Tom Aufderheide, MD, MS Endowed Lecture Fund has been established to honor his significant contributions and continuously support and advance education in the field of cardiac arrest resuscitation research and emergency cardiac care research in MCW’s department of emergency medicine. For more information, please contact Angela Nelson, senior director of development and alumni giving, at (414) 955-4708 or

Medical College of Wisconsin…8701 Watertown Plank Rd., Milwaukee, WI 53226
(414) 955-4725  |  Fax: (414) 955-6699  |


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