1987 Jury Member

The Rolex Awards for Enterprise

Location: United States

George Van Brunt Cochran
United States, 1932-2003

George Van Brunt Cochran is a past president of the Explorers Club and has led numerous expeditions to remote mountain ranges. He is also an orthopaedic surgeon who has specialized in combining medicine and modern engineering technology for the benefit of the handicapped requiring orthopaedic treatment and rehabilitation.


An American, Van Brunt attended Dartmouth College, graduated in medicine from Columbia University in 1956, and, subsequently, received a doctor of science degree in physiology. He currently is a professor of clinical orthopaedic surgery at Columbia. He is known particularly for his research on mechanical effects on bone remodelling, and recently authored a textbook on biomechanics.


From 1957 to 1959, he served as a flight surgeon with the United States Air Force on active duty. After that, he began research activities at St Luke's Hospital and at the Helen Hayes Hospital, both in New York.


At Helen Hayes Hospital, Cochran has been actively involved in bringing the combined resources of the engineering and medical professions to bear on musculoskeletal problems of the disabled and in operating an extensive training programme for engineers to aid in the delivery of high-technology health care.


ln 1972, he founded the Biomechanics Research Unit at the Helen Hayes Hospital and directed its growth into the present Orthopaedic Engineering and Research Center. This organization incorporates the original Biomechanics Unit which conducts research on bone remodelling and healing, aimed at improvement in bone-fracture repair, and also on soft-tissue mechanics aimed at the prevention of bedsores.


As a fellow of the Explorers Club, Dr Cochran’s avocation is exploratory mountaineering. He has led ten expeditions to little known regions of the mountains of Arctic Canada, and has also conducted research on glaciers and sea ice. He has organized other expeditions to British Columbia, Bolivia, Greenland and the Himalayas. ln 1985, he will serve as project leader of an expedition to attempt the first ascent of Gangkher Puensum (7,500m) in Bhutan.


An author of many scientific papers, Van Brunt Cochran is a member of numerous learned societies in the field of orthopaedic surgery and research.


George Van Brunt Cochran died in January 2003.

Other 1987 Jury Members