Max Harry Weil was born in Baden, Switzerland on February 9, 1927. After spending his early youth in Stuttgart, Germany, his family immigrated to New York City in the United States in 1936. Dr. Weil attended the Bronx High School of Science, served as a psychiatric social worker with the U.S. Army Medical Corps, and graduated from the University of Michigan in 1948. He received his medical degree from the State University of New York’s Downstate campus in Brooklyn in 1952 and trained in Internal Medicine and Cardiology in Cincinnati and Minneapolis. He later received a Doctorate degree in Physiology from the Mayo Clinic in 1957.
Early in his career, Dr. Weil realized that clinicians must change their approach to the treatment of critically patients. As the ‘father” of the specialty of critical care medicine, Dr. Weil created the first bedside shock cart in 1955 which is the precursor to today’s “code cart” in all hospitals. It was the first time that life-saving equipment and supplies were readily available at the bedside for critically hospitalized patients. In 1959, Dr. Weil and his colleague the late Dr. Herbert S. Shubin, created the first intensive care ward for critically ill patients in Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital after noticing that many patients died while recovering from a heart attack, surgery, or serious illness during the night. For the first time, seriously ill patients received around-the-clock critical care monitoring and intervention. Dr. Weil is also known for his trailblazing clinical, translational, and laboratory work in the areas of shock, lung edema, fluid resuscitation, and vasoactive substances. He was one of the most prolific researchers in the field of cardiopulmonary resuscitation and the microcirculation. Dr. Weil published more than 1500 research papers during his career. He held 19 patents.
In 1961, Drs. Max Harry Weil and Herbert S. Shubin founded the Institute of Critical Care Medicine, a nonprofit foundation focused on basic science research in emergency and critical care, and education for physicians and researchers interested in developing careers to help critically injured patients. The Institute was located in Southern California from 1975 to 1981. It then moved to the University of Health Sciences at the Chicago Medical School in 1981 where continue to grow over the next decade. Wanchun Tang, MD joined the Institute in 1988 research fellow. Dr. Tang received his medical degree in 1977 from the Shanghai Second Medical University. He went on to train as a Cardiothoracic surgeon. Drs. Weil and Tang moved the international headquarters of the Institute of Critical Care Medicine to Palm Springs, California and then moved to a 25,000 square foot facility in Rancho Mirage, California in 2004. In 2006, the H. N. and Francis C. Berger Foundation and the Board of Trustees of the Institute renamed the Institute to the Weil Institute of Critical Care Medicine to honor Dr. Weil’s substantial contributions. Dr. Weil retired from administrative duties in 2004 and Dr. Wanchun Tang became the Administrative Director of the Institute. Dr. Weil remained actively involved in the Institute’s research, educational, and outreach activities. He came to work daily until just a few weeks before his death in 2011 at the age of 84.
During Dr. Weil’s leadership the Weil Institute of Critical Care Medicine had many collaborative clinical research projects with major University Medical Centers located in Trieste, Italy; Toronto, Canada; Basel, Switzerland; Haifa, Israel; São Paulo, Brazil; Shanghai and Guangzhiu, China; Amsterdam, the Netherlands; Slovenia, Czechoslovakia: Taipei, Taiwan: New York, New York: an Indianapolis, Indiana. The Institute is a major contributor to the medical literature with over 1000 peer-reviewed publications in basic science, translational, and clinical research. It has been awarded 24 patents. The faculty of the Weil Institute received more than 30 prestigious national and international awards for their outstanding innovative research.
The Weil Institute of Critical Care Medicine has trained and sponsored more than 400 young physicians and postdoctoral students from all over the world through the Institute Fellowship Training Program. This two-year program introduces MDs and PhDs to the specialty of Critical Care Medicine and CPR/Resuscitation research after which they return home to their parent institution to become an academic leader and train others. Many of the Weil Institute’s former fellows are international leaders in this important field of medicine.
Dr. Weil was a founding member of the Society of Critical Care Medicine and served as its first president, from 1970 to 1972. He remained actively involved in the society for the remainder of his life long career. Dr. Weil was a Master Fellow of the College of Chest Physicians, a Master of the American College of Physicians, a Fellow of the American College of Physicians, a Fellow of the American College of Cardiology, the Master Fellow of the American college of Critical Care Medicine, and the American Heart Association. He was involved in multiple national and international committees and played key roles in the American Heart Association’s Emergency Cardiovascular Care Committee and the shaping of the cardiopulmonary resuscitation guidelines. Dr. Weil was widely respected and received awards from several International Societies, including the Lifetime Achievement Award from the World Federation of Societies of Intensive and Critical Care Medicine.
Dr. Weil was one of the world’s leading clinicians, educators, and researchers in the multidisciplinary specialty of critical care and emergency medicine. He was a true pioneer in advancing the care and treatment of critically injured patients. Virginia Commonwealth University is proud to be the new home for the Weil Institute of Emergency and Critical Care Research and is dedicated to upholding Dr. Weil’s legacy in advancing the knowledge of acute life-threatening injury and improving clinical outcomes in critically ill patients.
Our Defining Characteristics
Interdisciplinary and Inclusive: Bringing together multiple disciplines and departments
Collaborative: Fostering interdepartmental, interschool, and interinstitutional activities among faculty, students, the community, industry, and international partners
Public: Dissemination of research through talks, colloquia, and strategic outreach activities
Global: Engagement of research areas and focused activity with global partners