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Dr. William Murphy

11/11/1923 to 11/30-2023

Dr. William P. Murphy Jr. founded the Woodie Flowers Award in 1996 to highlight the effective communication used by Dr. Woodie Flowers.  Dr. Murphy’s intention is to encourage and recognize excellent communication skills among FIRST mentors, and he chose Woodie Flowers as an example.


Dr. Murphy is the son of the American physician William Parry Murphy, who shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1934.  During his childhood, Dr. Murphy excelled at creating machinery, and even developed his own snow blower, eventually selling the design to a company.  Dr. Murphy attended Harvard University and graduated in 1946.  He received his MD in 1947 from the University of Illinois, and also studied physiologic instrumentation at MIT. His interest in mechanical devices and medicine drove him to fix issues in the medical field, which led to many revolutionary inventions that changed the biomedical industry.  Murphy owns several patents, including significant improvements on the early cardiac pacemakers, artificial kidneys, cardiac catheters, and disposable medical trays and tools.

During the Korean War, Dr. Murphy worked with Dr. Carl Walter to develop and use the first flexible sealed blood bag used for blood transfusions.  This invention replaced glass containers, and is now the standard method in storing and transfusing human blood in an air-free, rapid dispensing system.

The Army hired Murphy as a consultant, and he performed myriad transfusions on wounded soldiers at the front lines. He also experienced in the Korean War that medical instruments were often damaged or inadequately sterilized. He therefore designed a series of inexpensive medical trays equipped with drugs and sterilized tools that could be discarded after use, reducing cross-contamination of patients.

Murphy founded his first company, Medical Development Corporation in 1957 out of his garage.  He focused on creating medical instrumentation.  Eventually, the company evolved into the Cordis Corporation, which is now a division of Johnson & Johnson.  Dr. Murphy led Cordis as President, Chairman, and CEO during his career until his retirement in 1985.

After retirement, Dr. Murphy remained active and busy. He co-authored nearly
30 medical publications and advised many boards and companies. He worked
with Dean Kamen to help create FIRST and was inspirational to Dean during
the development and formation of the FIRST organization.

Often recognized for his many achievements, he received countless awards
including the prestigious Lemelson-MIT Lifetime Achievement Award, the
Distinguished Service Award of the North American Society of Pacing and
Electrophysiology (1985), American Institute of Medical and Biological
Engineering Founding Fellow (1993) and the FIRST Founder’s Award (2000).

The WFA group made up of all of the Championship WFA winners got together and authored a wikipedia page in honor of Dr. William Murphy to create a place where his life and accomplishments could be shared.   Please visit this site at


The WFA Groups fondly remembers Dr. Murphy and our many meetings with him and his wife Bev. His leadership and guidance will live on through our common strong belief in Gracious Professionalism installed in us by Woodie.

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