Edward D. Thalmann

Edward Deforest Thalmann

Edward D. Thalmann, MD,
expert in hyperbaric medicine
Born (1945-04-03)April 3, 1945
Jersey City, New Jersey
Died July 24, 2004(2004-07-24) (aged 59)
Durham, North Carolina
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch  United States Navy
Years of service 1971–1993
Rank Captain
Awards Legion of Merit
Meritorious Service Medal
Navy Unit Commendation
Navy and Marine Corps Meritorious Unit Commendation with service star
National Defense Service Medal with service star
Navy and Marine Corps Overseas Service Ribbon with service star
Relations Alexander E. Thalmann (nephew)
Other work Naval Medical Research Institute
Duke University
Divers Alert Network

Capt. Edward Deforest Thalmann, USN (ret.) (April 3, 1945 – July 24, 2004) was an American hyperbaric medicine specialist who was principally responsible for developing the current United States Navy dive tables for mixed-gas diving, which are based on his eponymous Thalmann Algorithm (VVAL18).[1] At the time of his death, Thalmann was serving as Assistant Medical Director of the Divers Alert Network (DAN) and an Assistant Clinical Professor in Anesthesiology at Duke University's Center for Hyperbaric Medicine and Environmental Physiology.[2]


Thalmann graduated from Sayreville High School, Sayreville NJ, in 1962.[3] He attended the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, graduating in 1966 with a bachelor of science degree.[4] He attended medical school at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. From 1970 to 1971, Thalmann was a surgical intern at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal, Quebec. It was there that he met his future wife, a nursing student.

While on active duty, from 1975 to 1977, Thalmann conducted a two-year postdoctoral fellowship under the guidance of Claes Lundgren and Hermann Rahn, at the State University of New York at Buffalo, studying the effects of immersion and breathing bag placement in rebreathers on underwater exercise.[2]

Naval career

Thalmann served as Chief Medical Officer on board the ballistic missile submarine USS Thomas Jefferson for a single deployment, from 1971 to 1972 before being posted as a research diving medical officer at the United States Navy Experimental Diving Unit (NEDU) at the Washington Navy Yard, where he was stationed until 1975.

Following his post-doctoral fellowship in Buffalo, in 1977, Thalmann returned to NEDU, now located in Panama City, Florida, as Assistant Senior Medical Officer, where he began developing new dive tables and mixed-gas diving techniques.[5][2] While at NEDU, Thalmann created a number of unique and innovative underwater exercise devices, still in use today, intended to assist in gauging the underwater endurance of divers using various gas mixtures while performing physically demanding tasks.[6]

In 1985, Thalmann, now the Senior Medical Officer at NEDU, was selected for the NATO Undersea Medicine Personnel Exchange Program and assigned to the Royal Navy Institute of Naval Medicine, Alverstoke, United Kingdom. There he continued development of a new decompression table and worked on improving undersea thermal protection garments. Upon the conclusion of his exchange tour in 1987, Thalmann returned to Bethesda to serve as the commander of the Naval Medical Research Institute's diving medicine and physiology research division.

Civilian career

Following his retirement from the Navy in 1993, Thalmann stayed on at NMRI as a senior scientist in decompression research.[7] In July 1994 took a position in Durham, North Carolina at Duke's Center for Hyperbaric Medicine and Environmental Physiology and later accepted a simultaneous position as the Assistant Medical Director of DAN in 1995.

Thalmann died on July 24, 2004 in Durham, due to congestive heart failure, at the age of 59. He was committed to the sea on August 31, 2004 with services conducted aboard USS Maryland, an Ohio-class submarine, off the coast of Kings Bay, Georgia at 30°57′00″N 79°53′30″W / 30.95000°N 79.89167°W / 30.95000; -79.89167.[8]

Contributions to hyperbaric medicine

Based on scientific studies of gas exchange in human tissues, further informed by his supervision of hundreds of experimental dives, Thalmann developed his namesake mathematical algorithm to protect divers from decompression sickness. The Thalmann Algorithm was the basis for a new set of decompression tables that provided more flexibility for diving time, depth, gas mixtures and pressures. The algorithm was also used for developing wearable dive computers to manage complex individual dives. Thalmann's research ultimately improved decompression safety for military divers, recreational divers, and even astronauts.[7]


Gold star
Gold star
Gold star


Refereed journals

Non-refereed journals and reports

Book chapters

  • Vann, R.D; E.D. Thalmann (1993). "Decompression Modeling and Physiology". In Bennett, P.B.; Elliott, D.H. The Physiology and Medicine of Diving and Compressed Air Work (Fourth ed.). London: Bailliere Tindall. OCLC 2000230. 
  • Thalmann, E.D., editor of Chapter 8: "Diving Medicine", in: U.S. Navy Diving Manual, Vol 1. 1984, 1993 revisions. 
  • Invited Reviewer for: "Treatment of decompression sickness", Chapter 13. In: Edmonds, C.; Lowry, C.; Pennefather, J. (1992). Diving and Subaquatic Medicine (Third ed.). Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann. OCLC 24009565. 
  • Thalmann, E.D. (1996). "Gas Physiology in Diving: Decompression". In Fregley, M.J.; C.M. Batteis. Handbook of Physiology, Section 4: Environmental Physiology Volume II. New York: The American Physiological Society. Oxford University Press. pp. 1012–1015. 
  • Thalmann, E.D. (1997). "Diving Hazards". In Langley, R.L; McLymore, R.L.; Meggs, W.J.; Roberson, G.T. Safety and Health in Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries. Rockville, MD: Government Institutes. OCLC 35750471. 


  1. Southerland, D.G.; Butler, F.K. (2001). "The U.S. Navy Dive Computer" (pdf). Retrieved 2012-10-24.(subscription required)
  2. 1 2 3 "Ed Thalmann, M.D., Assistant Medical Director at DAN, Dies". Divers Alert Network. 2004-07-26. Retrieved 2012-10-24.
  3. Burkard, Tom. "Yearbook—Sayreville 1962", The South Amboy – Sayreville Times, April 20, 2002. Retrieved October 1, 2015. Confirmed by Thalmann's Duke University colleague Gene Hobbs.
  4. "In Memoriam". Rensselaer Magazine. Rensselaer Alumni Association. Winter 2004. Archived from the original on February 21, 2013.
  5. Butler, Frank K. "The U.S. Navy Decompression Computer". Cochran Undersea Technology. Retrieved 2012-10-24.
  6. Anecdotal information provided by Thalmann's daughters.
  7. 1 2 Pianadosi, Claude (Fall 2004). "In Memoriam: Edward Deforest Thalmann, 1945–2004" (PDF). Duke Anesthesiology Alumnus. Duke University Department of Anesthesiology. p. 1. Archived from the original on June 12, 2007.
  8. Rausch, C.S. (2004-08-31). "Letter from Commanding Officer, USS Maryland to Ms. Katherine N. Thalmann". Department of the Navy.

External links

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