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Mission:

We improve the lives of patients and our larger community through medical education, research, outreach and philanthropic support of Gundersen Health System.

Biography of A. Erik Gundersen, MD

A. Erik Gundersen, MD

A. Erik Gundersen, MD—Dr. Erik to patients and staff—is a third generation Gundersen doctor and retired thoracic surgeon.

Dr. Erik didn't want to duplicate the practices of his cousins, Dr. Sig II and Dr. Adolf, so he decided to bring thoracic and pediatric surgery specialties to expand the medical services at Gundersen Clinic.

After three years at a boarding school in Lake Forest, Ill., Dr. Erik spent close to 16 years perfecting his career. He received his undergraduate degree from Dartmouth College, his medical degree from Harvard Medical School, and completed residencies in pediatric surgery at Boston Children's Hospital and thoracic and cardiovascular surgery at Ulleval Hospital in Oslo, Norway and the Newcastle Thoracic Unit in England. Dr. Erik also served two years in the United States Army stationed at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs. Dr. Erik joined Gundersen Clinic in 1964, the 49th physician to be hired. Along with his practice, Dr. Erik served on the Lutheran Hospital Board of Trustees from 1976-1979.

Dr. Erik's first heart surgery was to repair a congenital heart defect on August 3, 1965. In 1970, Dr. Erik was involved in another amazing case that drew national attention—he was part of a team that reattached a 15-year-old's arm that was severed in a car-bicycle accident.

Following a distinguished career in pediatric and thoracic/open heart surgery, Dr. Erik retired in 2000 from his practice. He then joined the Gundersen Medical Foundation as their Vice Chair for the next 20 years. He remains active in visiting our patients and thanking donors daily phone calls. The 76-year-old Gundersen Medical Foundation was formed by his father and uncles in 1944. Dr. Erik celebrated his 56th year of service to Gundersen Health System in August of this year.

Some of Dr. Erik's accomplishments include:

  • Chair of "Building A Home for Hope" Capital Campaign, which raised $11.4 million for the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders
  • Created 343 MedWatch posters, which were displayed throughout the organization
  • Worked with Kay Wagner to archive hundreds of historical artifacts in Gundersen storage, which we can now enjoy walking down the history hallway
  • Helped publish a second volume of Gundersen history from 1990-2016
  • In 2018, Dr. Erik and his wife, Sophia, served as King and Queen at the Emerald Ball.

Dr. Erik has a love of history and particularly enjoys compiling the accomplishments and activities of his extended family. Gundersen Medical Foundation and Gundersen Health System are indebted to his service.

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