Robert E. Wise, MD, was one of the nation’s most respected radiologists and a leading force behind Lahey Hospital & Medical Center. He was the last physician to be personally hired by Lahey Clinic’s founder, Frank Lahey, MD, but the two men would never work together. Dr. Lahey died only days after interviewing Dr. Wise and offering him a job. Dr. Wise joined Lahey Clinic in 1953 as a staff member in the Department of Radiology. He had a distinguished career in medicine, and in 1973 was appointed chair of the Board of Governors. Two years later, Dr. Wise assumed the duties of chief executive officer, a position he held until his retirement in 1991.
Widely respected as a pioneer in the field of diagnostic imaging, he was an early adaptor of many technologies that emerged during his career, including ultrasound, MRI and CT scanning. For his distinguished and exemplary service to the field, Dr. Wise was awarded the prestigious American College of Radiology’s Gold Medal in 1979, the organization’s highest honor for service in teaching, basic research, clinical investigation and statesmanship. He was only the sixth Boston-area recipient to receive this prestigious award.
In 1991, he established the Robert E. Wise, MD, Research and Education Institute, which continues to fund top research and education initiatives for Lahey Hospital & Medical Center.
His contributions to the field of radiology include numerous clinical and research papers that were highly regarded for exploring new technologies in the rapidly changing field of diagnostic imaging, and he was the author of two radiology textbooks. A respected educator, he served as a clinical professor of radiology at Boston University School of Medicine and held visiting professorships at medical schools in Houston, Pittsburgh and Toronto. Dr. Wise also held numerous civic positions, including serving as a trustee of the Eleanor Naylor Dana Charitable Trust, a director of the Algonuin Club of Boston, a trustee of Middlesex Community College, a trustee of the Boston Ballet, a director of the Boston Opera Association, a director of the North Suburban Chamber of Commerce and a sponsor of the Academy of the Assumption of Wellesley Hills.
When he passed away on August 11, 2012, Dr. Wise left behind a manuscript filled with details of Lahey Clinic’s history—a work he had been compiling for the last 20 years. In 2013, Lahey Health published his book, Lahey Clinic: From Boston to Burlington, which offers a historical look at the evolution of Lahey Hospital & Medical Center, chronicling Dr. Wise’s tenure as chief executive officer and his leadership of the successful effort to relocate Lahey Clinic from Commonwealth Avenue in Boston to Mall Road in Burlington.