Theodor Kolobow Collection Finding Aid

Summary Information

Title: Theodor Kolobow Papers
Creator: Kolobow, Theodor
Dates: 1931-2018
Extent: 7 boxes

Dr. Theodor Kolobow came to NIH in 1962 and spent his career at the Laboratory of Technical Development of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). He became chief of the Section of Pulmonary and Cardiac Assist Devices in 1970. His work is a clear example of translational research, with laboratory developments rapidly implemented in clinical practice, and includes the membrane oxygenator used in ventilators, artificial kidneys, endotracheal tubes designs, and Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO). Dr. Kolobow's ideas lead to many other biotechnological advances, and over the course of his career he accumulated over 20 patents; many of his instruments are in the NIH Stetten Museum collection as well as the National Museum of American History.

Language: Collection materials primarily in English, some Estonian.
Location: Materials stored at the Office of NIH History and Stetten Museum on the NIH campus. Contact the office for scheduling at 301-496-6610 or 301-496-7695.

Access and Use


These files were transferred from Dr. Theodor Kolobow, his family, and his post-docs. 

Access Restrictions:

Collection is not restricted.

Copyright and Re-use Information

Most of these records belong to the federal government and are in public domain.  Archival collections may contain mixed copyrights and permission to examine collection materials is not an authorization to publish. It is the user's responsibility to research and understand any applicable copyright and re-publication rights not allowed by fair use.

Privacy Information

Archives and manuscript collections may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations. Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in any collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications for which the Office of NIH History and Stetten Museum assumes no responsibility.

Preferred Citation:

Theodor Kolobow Papers. Located in the Office of NIH History and Stetten Museum, National Institutes of Health.


Dr. Theodor Kolobow was born on in 1931 in the small island village of Kardla, Estonia. During World War II, his family fled Estonia for a deported person’s camp in Augsburg, Germany, where he kept up his education. After being accepted at Heidelberg College (now University) in Tiffin, Ohio, Kolobow immigrated to the United States.  He graduated in 1954 and completed his medical degree at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.  There, Kolobow worked with Dr. George Clowes on a method to oxygenate blood during heart surgeries and helped lay the foundation for the use of membrane oxygenators in ventilators.  

Kolobow joined the Laboratory of Technical Development of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) in 1962, after his residency at Cleveland Metropolitan General Hospital.  He became chief of the Section of Pulmonary and Cardiac Assist Devices in 1970.  There his work led to many instruments used in clinical practice today, such as Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO), which has been used to treat thousands of people.  He also worked on cardiac assist devices, new dialysis machines, and various designs of endotracheal tubes for adults and infants such as low resistance tubes, and tubes that would limit bacterial contamination.  His later work focused on preventing ventilator associated pneumonias.   

Dr. Theodor Kolobow died in March 2018, having saved thousands of lives with his inventions.  For an in-depth life history, read “Treating Lungs”: The Scientific Contributions of Dr. Theodor Kolobow,” John M. Trahanas, Mary Anne Kolobow, Mark A. Hardy, Lorenzo Berra, Warren M. Zapol, and Robert H. Bartlett, ASAIO Journal, 2016 Mar-Apr; 62(2): 203–210.

Collection Scope and Content Note

Consists of slides, presentations, articles, dissertation, clinical trial documents, and research notes for a variety of Dr. Kolobow’s instruments such as endotracheal tubes. More documentation is available with specific instruments in the NIH Stetten Museum collection.

Subject Terms

Index Terms

These terms are indexed in the National Library of Medicine's online catalog LocatorPlus. Researchers wishing to find related materials should search the catalog using these terms.

MeSH Subjects


Box 1 Oversized Box

Materials for Presentations


Poster Board Felt Attached



Power Point (SMART 2005 2nd copy)

Instructions for helical coil Usage

Box 2


Changing the Dogma, Glasgow, Scotland, 1996; 1 sheet of slides

Extra Corporeal Circulation; 3 sheets of slides, 1 handout

Giacomini Presentation, 2001; 4 sheets of slides

Inflatable Balloon; sketches

Miami Children’s Hospital Presentation, 1999; 4 sheets of slides

Mucus, Mechanical Ventilation; slides, negatives, and film

Mucus, Slurper Slides ; 3 sheets of slides and notes

New Endotracheal Tube Study; 2 sheets of slides and multiple handouts

New Tube Slides 6117-6141, 1994; 6 sheet of slides

Rescue from Pediatric ECMO Extra Corporeal; 4 sheets of slides

Trachea, Larynx Control; 1994; 1 sheet of slides

Trachea Tube, Oxygenation


Box 3


Presentations; 3 sheets of slides

Slides 1966 – 1982; 7 sheets of slides

Slides 1983 – ; 3 sheets of slides

Kolobor Slides 6156 – 6176 1995; 8 sheets of slides and notes

Kolobow Slides 2003; 2 sheets


Box 4

Publications 1955 - 1979

CV and Bibliography

1958 Dissertation; bound copy and various additional copies

1955 – 1970

1971 – 1975

1976 – 1979


Box 5

Publications 1980-; Meeting Abstracts; Talks

1980 – 1989

1990 – 1999

2000 – 2008

Meeting Abstracts

Talks; 2006


Box 6

Clinical Trials Documentation

Clinical Trial Successful Ventilation Strategy Found for Intensive Care for Patients on Life Support; March 15, 1999

Extracorporeal Support for Respiratory Insufficiency

Part 1 In Response to RFP-NHLI-73-20 1979; December 1979

Part 2 In Response to RFP-NHLI-73-20 1979; December 1979


Box 7

Research Documents

Bicarbonate Filter

Blood Cell Separator; patent and research

Continuous Positive Airways Pressure System


Cuffed Trach Tubes

Heart/Lung Machine

Mucus Shaver and Slurper Device

Orientation of Trach Tube on Bacterial Growth VAP 1

Orientation of Trach Tube on Bacterial Growth VAP2


Spontaneous Breathing Apparatus; 2003

Tilting Bed

Two Stage Twin Endotracheal Tube