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Inventor of G-Suit Dies
Date:3/23/2009

Dr. Earl Wood was Mayo pioneer in aerospace medicine

ROCHESTER, Minn., March 23 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Earl Wood, M.D., Ph.D., the Mayo Clinic investigator credited with inventing the high-altitude pressure suit worn by pilots and astronauts, died March 18 in Rochester, Minn. He was 97.

"As both a physician and researcher, Dr. Wood provided nearly five decades of outstanding leadership to Mayo Clinic and scientific advancements to the world," says Denis Cortese, M.D., Mayo Clinic president and CEO. "His achievements made manned spaceflight possible and contributed to American national defense since WWII. His legacy of discovery will benefit society for decades to come."

Dr. Wood was born January 1, 1912, in Mankato, Minn. A 1934 graduate of Macalester College, he also earned an additional bachelor's degree, master's degree, as well as Ph.D. and M.D. degrees from the University of Minnesota. After serving as a National Research Council fellow at the University of Pennsylvania, he taught Pharmacology at Harvard University where he met Charles Code, M.D., who offered him a position at Mayo Clinic.

From 1942, Dr. Wood was an integral member of the Mayo Clinic Aero Medical Unit, which developed the first civilian human centrifuge in the United States. The centrifuge was used to test human reactions to high levels of gravitational (G) forces. The team of Drs. Wood and Code, and Drs. Edward Lambert and E.J. Baldes tested the centrifuge themselves, risking their personal safety to safeguard others involved in their research. They followed the same "do no harm" approach when, later, they tested equipment inside aircraft. Barry Gilbert, Ph.D., a Mayo physiologist who worked with Dr. Wood, says this group didn't hesitate to be their own "guinea pigs."

"People need to appreciate that for four years Dr. Wood and his colleagues go
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SOURCE Mayo Clinic
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