Surgeon and Musician
For Claudius Conrad, music and medicine are closely intertwined. An internationally renowned expert in the field, he has contributed to a growing body of research indicating that music helps patients, their relatives, and even operating room surgeons. Conrad, director of the Music in Medicine Research Group at Massachusetts General Hospital, was one of the first to investigate the mechanisms that account for the healing properties of music. Some of his most recent research suggests that the central pathway that mediates music-induced relaxation acts by stimulating release of a growth hormone from the brain usually associated with stress, not healing.
A pianist since the age of four, Conrad finds that his dexterity at the keyboard and his prowess with a scalpel are directly related. “If I don't play for a couple of days,” he says, “I am not as receptive to the feedback tissue gives me.” Like many surgeons, he also claims that listening to music can help in the operating room. Conrad holds an MD, a PhD in stem cell biology, and a PhD in music philosophy—all from the University of Munich.