Dr. Alfred Blalock (1899-1964) was best known for his research on shock and for developing, with Dr. Helen Taussig, the Blalock-Taussig Shunt, a surgical procedure for correcting “blue baby syndrome,” a congenital heart defect in infants. That development ushered in the modern era of cardiac surgery and Dr. Cooley, as an intern at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, assisted Dr. Blalock with the first of these operations. Dr. Blalock’s influence, work, and research inspired Dr. Cooley to specialize in heart surgery. After founding the Texas Heart Institute, dedicated to treating heart disease and training new heart specialists, Dr. Cooley recognized his surgical teacher and mentor by dedicating the library in THI’s new 28-story tower to Dr. Blalock. Although the library no longer bears his name, Dr. Blalock’s memory lives on in a collection of his papers and letters, housed in the library’s archives. — Gregg
P.S. Read more about THI’s history as told by Dr. Cooley himself: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2565532/.