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George Theodore Nager

Portrait of George Theodore Nager
George Theodore Nager
Artist:
Date: 1984
Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 42.5 x 34 in.
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George Theodore Nager

1917-2010

Nager, a director of otolaryngology at Johns Hopkins, was born in Zurich, Switzerland. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Geneva in 1940 and received his M.D. in 1945 from the University of Zurich, where his father had been chairman of the department of otolaryngology. He went to London in 1949 to study neurology but ultimately decided to apply his neurological skills to a career in otolaryngology. He later returned to Zurich for his residency in otolaryngology.

Nager first came to Johns Hopkins in 1952, working as a fellow with Stacy Rufus Guild, an associate professor of otolaryngology and internationally known expert on the inner ear. He found a receptive environment that enabled him to combine his commitment to research with teaching and patient care.

Nager joined the faculty in 1952 and was named Andelot Professor and chairman of the department of otolaryngology in 1969, a position he held until 1984. Nager ran the highly acclaimed Johns Hopkins Temporal Bone Laboratory, which he helped reorganize and expand, and the otological surgical service. After retiring, Nager continued conducting research at Hopkins on inner ear diseases that affect hearing and equilibrium.

Nager’s fascination with neuropathology prompted a series of classical studies of the effects of cranial nerve tumors and temporal bone malformations on hearing and equilibrium. He was particularly noted for his investigations of Paget’s disease, a heritable bone disorder that can result in deafness. Nager’s reputation for performing difficult and delicate surgery while sparing patients’ neurological function no doubt inspired Helen Taussig to call on Nager to repair her own hearing problem, which he did with great success.

Nager was a member of the American Otological Society, which in 1988 presented him with their Award of Merit. In 2003, the George T. Nager Professorship in Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery was established at the School of Medicine in recognition of the lasting importance of his work.

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