Hendrik J. Svien
Hendrik (Hank) Julius Svien was born in a farming community near Rochester, Minnesota, of Norwegian parentage in 1911. He entered St. Olaf College and graduated cum laude in chemistry. He later undertook graduate work in chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a teaching appointment at New York University. He abandoned chemistry to enter the University of Minnesota Medical School and earned an M.D. degree in 1937. In 1938, he Was appointed a fellow in general surgery at the Mayo Clinic and later in neurosurgery, and was "boarded" in both specialities.
Dr. Svien served in the United States Navy Medical Corps during World War II between 1942 and 1946. During this period, he was stationed at Portsmouth, Bethesda, the Fleet Marine Force, and at Oceanside, advancing in rank to lieutenant commander and was awarded three battle stars. He met his future wife, Nancy Weems Gatch (the daughter of Admiral and Mrs. Thomas Leigh Gatch) while on active duty. He returned to the Mayo Clinic in 1948, where he remained on staff in the Department of Neurological Surgery until his untimely death in 1972.
Dr. Svien had a keen interest in research and in a wide range of clinical problems. He participated in the development of a new classification of glial tumors with Drs. Kernohan, Mabon, Adson, and Craig. He had an interest in the surgical treatment of torticollis, pituitary tumors, malignant brain lesions, and cerebral edema. He investigated the use of steroids in animals with cerebral edema before its application in humans by Dr. Lyle French. He described with Dr. Hollenhorst, a method to measure retinal artery pressure and explained its importance.
Dr. Svien was founder and second president of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons. He served on the Board of Directors of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons and as secretary and treasurer. He became a member of all the national neurosurgical organizations and was chairman of the Foundation for International Education in Neurosurgery.
Dr. Svien published more than 120 articles, as well as one book on the treatment of pituitary tumors, and died in 1972 from congestive heart failure. He is remembered by those who knew him as a talented investigator and surgeon.