Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., received his B.A. from Yale University and his M.D. from Western Reserve University. In 1956, pulling the No. six oar as a member of the victorious United States rowing team, he was awarded a gold medal at the Olympic Games. He was trained as a surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic and at St. George’s Hospital in London. In 1968, as an Army surgeon in Vietnam, he was awarded the Bronze Star.
Dr. Esselstyn has been associated with the Cleveland Clinic since 1968. During that time, he has served as President of the Staff and as a member of the Board of Governors. He chaired the Clinic’s Breast Cancer Task Force and headed its Section of Thyroid and Parathyroid Surgery.
In 1991, Dr. Esselstyn served as President of the American Association of Endocrine Surgeons. That same year he organized the first National Conference on the Elimination of Coronary Artery Disease, which was held in Tucson, Arizona. In 1997, he chaired a follow-up conference, the Summit on Cholesterol and Coronary Disease, which brought together more than 500 physicians and health-care workers in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. In April, 2005, Dr. Esselstyn became the first recipient of the Benjamin Spock Award for Compassion in Medicine. He received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Cleveland Clinic Alumni Association in 2009.
His scientific publications number over 150. “The Best Doctors in America” 1994-1995 published by Woodward and White cites Dr. Esselstyn’s surgical expertise in the categories of endocrine and breast disease. In 1995 he published his bench mark long-term nutritional research on arresting and reversing coronary artery disease in severely ill patients. That same study was updated at 12 years making it one of the longest longitudinal studies of its type. It is most compelling, as no compliant patients have sustained disease progression. Today, 20 years later compliant patients continue to thrive.
Dr. Esselstyn and his wife, Ann Crile Esselstyn, have followed a plant-based diet for more than 20 years. They work together to counsel patients both in Cleveland, where they live, and in summer at the farm in upstate New York where Dr. Esselstyn grew up. Dr. Esselstyn concentrates on the medical details, and Ann focuses on healthy foods and how to prepare them.