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Jefferson Davis

Born: December 7, 1932


Died:  July 30, 1989

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Notable Achievements:

Jefferson C. Davis, M.D. is internationally recognized as the father of hyperbaric medicine and a world-renowned leader in undersea medicine. 

A world leader in diving medicine and co-author of important textbooks on hyperbaric treatment for diving accidents.

Held positions in the Air Force, including forming the USAF Hyperbaric Medicine Center in San Antonio. Retired with rank of Colonel.

As consultant to NASA, helped plan the hyperbaric chamber.

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Dr. Jefferson Davis, M.D.


Through his research in the application of hyperbaric oxygen, he pioneered its use in the treatment of decompression sickness and air embolism in both military and civilian divers.

Dr. Davis received his M D. degree from the University of Missouri and his Master’s in Public Health from the University of California at Berkeley.   He then studied diving medicine at the US Navy Experimental Diving unit in Washington, DC. During the Vietnam War, he was Director of Base Medical Services and Flight Surgeon at Phu Cat Air Base, Vietnam.

In 1974 he founded the USAF Hyperbaric Medicine Center at Brooks Air Force Base in San Antonio, where he conceived, implemented and established the first major program in the US to apply and study the therapeutic effects of hyperbaric oxygen.  In 1979 Dr. Davis retired from the USAF as a full colonel and chief flight surgeon after 20 years of service. Following his retirement he was appointed National Consultant in Hyperbaric Medicine to the Surgeon General USAF.

Dr. Davis was the epitome of a dedicated physician. He was not satisfied to only practice medicine, which he did with skill and compassion, but also contributed much to the great needs of the diving, aerospace, and hyperbaric medicine communities. He was the Medical Program Director for Medical Seminars, Inc., which organized seminars in diving medicine for physicians around the world. One of his last positions was as medical consultant to the space program, and he chaired a NASA committee planning the necessary hyperbaric facility on the first US space station.