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Dr. Wayne Isom

Chief Surgeon, Cornell Medical Center's Presbyterian-New York Hospital
Pre-Medicine, 1962

Dr. Wayne Isom grew up on a cotton farm in West Texas and says his father was a strong influence in inspiring him to attain an education. That's saying something for a man who has risen to the top of the fiercely competitive profession of cardiac surgery, performing bypass surgeries on celebrities like David Letterman, Larry King and Walter Cronkite.

He studied pre-med at Texas Tech, where he earned his room and board working nights as a lab tech at Methodist Hospital.Today he is Chairman of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Weill Cornell Medical Center-New York Presbyterian Hospital where he's been nicknamed the "cardiac cowboy." Dr. Isom built Cornell's elite cardiac treatment center from the ground up, raising funds with a combination of West Texas charm and scalpel-sharp surgical brilliance.