Austen was a leader in heart surgery at Mass General and remains an active member of the MGH community. In 1955, MGH’s Chief of Surgery Edward Churchill, MD, asked Austen and vascular surgeon Robert Shaw, MD, to develop MGH’s first heart-lung machine. Austen, then a surgical intern, also had a graduate degree from MIT in fluid mechanics, which proved useful in this task. Austen later became the hospital’s first chief of Cardiovascular Surgical Research, and then served as the hospital’s Chief of Surgery for 28 years. He was an innovator in the development of circulatory support systems to aid the failing heart and in treating complications of coronary artery disease.