Dr. Robert Berger, who discredited Nazi medical experiments

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BOSTON — Dr. Robert Berger, an eminent cardiothoracic surgeon who discredited medical experiments conducted by the Nazis, has died.

Berger, a Holocaust survivor from Hungary who risked his life fighting with the resistance, died Jan. 1 in Boston of complications from a heart attack.


He was 86.

The director of clinical research in The Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center’s Division of Thoracic Surgery and Interventional Pulmonology, Berger published his groundbreaking study in the May 1990 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine, challenging the continuing use of medical research on hypothermia conducted on hundreds of inmates at Dachau.

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His study of the experiments at the German concentration camp in 1942 and 1943 made headlines at a time when the issue of unethically conducted research was a hotly debated subject. At the time, he told The New York Times, the data “cannot advance science or save human lives.”

Berger found that the experiments were flawed, with evidence of data falsification and other unsound scientific methods. Results of the experiments were still being used by doctors and researchers, Berger found in his research.


Berger is survived by his wife, Dr. Patricia Downs; daughters Shana and Ilana; a brother, Thomas and two grandchildren.

— JTA News and Features

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