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Advances in Health and Medicine

Pitt Pioneers Training of ICU Doctors


Pitt’s first-of-its-kind Department of Critical Care Medicine (CCM) trains intensivists—physicians who specialize in treating critically ill patients in intensive care units.

During the 1960s, Pitt doctors Peter Safar and Ake Grenvik began to change the way doctors treat critically ill and injured patients. They introduced approaches like induction of hypothermia—reducing patients' body temperature to slow damage to organs—and resuscitation, and went on to found the Society of Critical Care Medicine.

In 2001, Pitt established the first CCM department in a U.S. medical school, and appointed Derek Angus as Mitchell Fink Chair. Research focuses on dangers critically ill patients face, including sepsis and septic shock, brain injury, and organ dysfunction.

The department’s research enterprise comprises three research centers: the Safar Center for Resuscitation Research, the Multidisciplinary Acute Care Clinical Research Organization, and the Clinical Research, Investigation, and Systems Modeling of Acute illness Center.

In 2001, the Society of Critical Care Medicine honored seven current and former members of Pitt's Department of Critical Care as Masters of Critical Care Medicine, a newly developed award meant to recognize members who have distinguished themselves by achieving national and international professional prominence due to personal character, leadership, eminence in clinical practice, outstanding contributions to research and education in critical care medicine, and years of exemplary service.