Dr. Robert Bartlett, ’60, to Address Class of 2016 at Commencement

March 30, 2016

A man wearing a lab coat.Dr. Robert H. Bartlett, ’60, whose groundbreaking surgical treatment has saved the lives of thousands of babies over the years, returns to campus Saturday, May 7 to deliver the Commencement address to Albion College’s Class of 2016 from the steps of Kresge Gymnasium on the College Quadrangle. The ceremony begins at 1 p.m., with the Processional starting at 12:45 p.m.

Dr. Bartlett (right) received his B.A. from Albion and his M.D. with honors in 1963 from the University of Michigan Medical School. He is currently professor emeritus of surgery at the University of Michigan.

Internationally recognized for his work as a medical investigator and researcher, Dr. Bartlett is perhaps best known for developing extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) technology in 1975. The process removes blood from the body of the person experiencing heart or lung failure, artificially removes carbon dioxide and oxygenates red blood cells, then returns the blood to the patient.

Primarily used at first for babies in critical condition, the process is now being used more for adults. Bartlett says he receives several letters a week not only from parents whose children were saved by ECMO but by kids who were saved by the process.

After earning his M.D. from the University of Michigan, he completed his residency at the Peter Bent Brigham and Children’s Hospital in Boston and served as a National Institutes of Health trainee in academic surgery at Harvard Medical School. He then joined the faculty at the University of California Irvine as an assistant professor of surgery.

In 1980, he returned to the University of Michigan Medical Center as director of graduate education, director of surgical intensive care and chief of the trauma/critical care division.

He continues his research work, which includes the development of an artificial liver system for patients awaiting a liver transplant.

Dr. Bartlett, who played in the band at Albion, maintains his interest in music and has also published two novels in recent years—The Salem Syndrome: A Novel of Medicine and Law in 2005 and Piece of Mind: A Novel of Medicine and Philosophy in 2007.

Albion College’s Commencement is free and open to the public. For more information about Commencement, contact the Office of College Events at 517/629-0448.