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The University of Cincinnati College of Medicine was founded January 19, 1819, when frontier physician Daniel Drake, MD, received a charter from the Ohio State Legislature to establish the Medical College of Ohio in Cincinnati. Twenty-four students attended the first class in 1820, and on April 4, 1821, seven students received medical degrees at the college’s first commencement.
The next 30 years were difficult for the Medical College of Ohio. The college lost many of its students during Cincinnati’s two-year cholera outbreak beginning in 1832 and almost collapsed in 1835. Despite near constant troubles, the college continued. The second half of the 19th century were days of prosperity and prominence for the Medical College of Ohio. Classes grew steadily, and disagreements among faculty and the college’s board were minimal. An influx of outstanding medical teachers and clinicians raised the national stature of the college.
On April 27, 1896, the college merged with the University of Cincinnati and the school moved from downtown to the old McMicken University Building on today’s West Clifton Avenue. In 1899, the college admitted its first female student, Marie C. Boyd, who would graduate in 1903. At the close of the 1908-1909 academic year, the Medical College of Ohio merged with Miami Medical College into a single medical department for the university called the Ohio-Miami Medical College. The college would become known as the UC College of Medicine in 1921.
The college received a significant endorsement in 1913 when the American Medical Association placed it on its list of Class A+ medical colleges, one of just 22 medical schools receiving the highest grade. During this time Christian Holmes, MD, led a new enlightened age for the medical school. A new college building on Eden Avenue opened in 1918. Major donations came in, the first 10 endowed chairs were established between 1909 and 1930, and a new hospital named for Holmes was built. The College of Medicine and Children’s Hospital, today Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, affiliated in 1925.
Significant research growth also was occurring at the College of Medicine. Beginning in 1922, the college’s reputation as a hub of surgical innovation and education skyrocketed with several surgeons coming to Cincinnati from Johns Hopkins University. Following the 1930 opening of the Kettering Laboratories, important toxicology and occupational health research established the college’s international reputation in these fields.
The Medical Sciences Building opened in 1974 allowing the school’s class size to jump by nearly 50 percent. The Cardiovascular Center (1995), the Vontz Center for Molecular Studies (1999) and the CARE/Crawley Building (2008) followed.
Questions and additional information about the history of the College of Medicine can be obtained from the UC Libraries’ Winkler Center for the History of the Health Professions.
The UC Academic Health Center is probably best known for the development of the first live, attenuated polio vaccine. Albert B. Sabin, MD, worked on the project both at UC and the affiliated Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. Approved for use in the United States in the late 1960s, the vaccine has saved untold millions around the world from paralytic polio and death.
In 1951, cardiologist Samuel Kaplan, MD, chemist Leland Clark, PhD, and surgery professor James Helmsworth, MD, developed the world’s first functional heart-lung machine, located at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.
Brain scans.The Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Stroke Team at UC is among the nation’s pioneers in tPA studies and established a protocol for quick diagnosis and treatment. UC scientists also contributed to the development of NovoSeven, a recombinant clotting factor for the treatment of brain hemorrhage caused by stroke.
UC was the first university-based environmental research facility to become nationally known for its studies of the health effects of lead in children, and our department of environmental health was one of the first to test a chelation drug that effectively removed high lead levels from the bloodstream.
The late pediatrics professor Josef Warkany, MD, is regarded as the “father of teratology” (the biological study of birth defects), and his book “Congenital Malformations” (1981) is considered a medical classic, as it was the first to associate causes, not mere chance, with birth defects
The popular antihistamine marketed as Benadryl was developed at UC by the late professor George Rieveschl, PhD.
UC pediatrics professor Jeffrey Whitsett, MD, identified a protein that was both vital for lungs to operate and lacking in babies born early, which led to a routine treatment for immature lungs and respiratory distress syndrome in premature infants.
UC researchers Robert Frank, PhD, and Robert Gesteland, PhD, invented a test to measure how well a person can detect an odor, which in turn can flag brain damage early in the progression of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.
UC had the first emergency medicine and physical medicine and rehabilitation residency programs in the United States. UC also was one of the first in the United States to introduce a family practice residency program, thus pioneering the return of the “family doctor” to U.S. health-care delivery.
In 1994 and 1995, Michael Bottorf, PharmD, of UC’s James L. Winkle College of Pharmacy, helped develop national and state guidelines for the treatment of heart failure.
The late dermatology professor Leon Goldman, MD, considered the “father of laser medicine,” opened the country’s first medical laser laboratory at UC in 1961.
In 1984, neurosurgery professor John Tew, MD. became the country’s first surgeon to receive FDA approval to use the YAG laser to vaporize previously inoperable brain tumors.
In 1989, UC researchers discovered that the drug ketoconazole made cyclosporin work more effectively, lowering the amount needed to prevent rejection of a transplanted organ.
In 1990, under the direction of neurosurgeon Ronald Warnick, MD, UC became one of the first four centers in the country to use gene therapy for the treatment of recurring brain tumors.
In 1995, UC researchers isolated a gene that leads to an increased risk of colon cancer, which may lead to understanding how people inherit a predisposition to the disease.
1819: Founding of the Medical College of Ohio, precursor to the UC College of Medicine. School becomes the oldest medical school west of the Alleghenies.
1821: Founding of the Commercial Hospital and Lunatic Asylum, first teaching hospital of the Medical College of Ohio. It later drops “Lunatic Asylum” from its name in 1861.
1850: Founding of the Cincinnati College of Pharmacy, the first pharmacy school west of the Alleghenies.
1852: Miami Medical College founded.
1869: Cincinnati Hospital opens to replace the Commercial Hospital of Cincinnati.
1896: Medical College of Ohio officially becomes a part of UC.
1908: Miami Medical College and the Medical College of Ohio merge to form the Ohio-Miami Medical College.
1919: Ohio-Miami Medical College renamed the UC College of Medicine.
1938: Hoxworth Blood Center founded. UC cancer researcher E.W. Wallace among country’s first 10 awardees from the National Institutes of Health.
1960: UC given executive control of Cincinnati General Hospital; First Sabin Sunday hosted (April 24, 1960) in a campaign to vaccinate children in Cincinnati and Hamilton County using the world’s first oral, live-virus polio vaccine, which was developed by UC’s Albert Sabin, MD.
1967: UC Medical Center created and includes the colleges of medicine, nursing and pharmacy, and University Hospital, Christian R. Holmes Hospital and the Health Sciences Library.
1982: Cincinnati General Hospital renamed University of Cincinnati Hospital.
1985: College of Medicine establishes the Daniel Drake Medal—the highest honor bestowed by the college—in honor of the 200th anniversary of the birth of College of Medicine Founder Daniel Drake, MD.
1994: Health Alliance of Greater Cincinnati assumes management of UC Hospital and later renames it University Hospital.
1997: Cardiovascular Research Center opens.
1999: Vontz Center for Molecular Studies opens.
2003: The Genome Research Institute opens. Ground is broken on the Medical Sciences Building/Center for Academic Excellence (CARE)-Crawley project. Phase I slated to open in 2007.
2004: UC’s Elwood Jensen, PhD, honored with Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research.
2006: UC Medical Center adopts the name “Academic Health Center” to better reflect its scope of services.
2007: UC College of Medicine, University Hospital and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center sign memorandum of understanding to support a joint cancer program (now called the University of Cincinnati Cancer Center). The partnership provides scientific and intellectual resources to enable the three institutions to increase the internationally significant research performed.
2008: The CARE/Crawley Building opens.
2009: The Genome Research Institute is renamed the Reading Campus and the Metabolic Diseases Institute is created; CARE/Crawley Building Awarded LEED Gold certification for excellence in sustainable building practices; UC and affiliates awarded Clinical and Translational Science Award from the National Institutes of Health.
2010: UC Health officially launches; College of Medicine embarks on a curriculum revision effort.
2012: University Hospital changes its name to University of Cincinnati Medical Center.
2015: The College of Medicine enrolls its first baccalaureate class in the Medical Sciences. The program is one of the first undergraduate programs in a U.S. medical college.
2017: Hamilton County health officials announce a first-in-the-nation Narcan project with a goal of saving lives by infusing the community with the opioid overdose antidote. The College of Medicine heads research for the project, tracking the distribution of Narcan and overdoses and deaths in the county
2020: The College of Medicine establishes the Webster-Gustin Medical Scholarship to provide full-tuition scholarships to medical students who completed their high school or college educations in Ohio.
2020: Researchers at Cincinnati Children’s and the College of Medicine treat the first patient in the world with “Flash” therapy, a new cancer therapy that takes less than one second to deliver, during a clinical trial at the Cincinnati Children’s/UC Health Proton Center.
2021: The College of Medicine renews a five-year cooperate agreement that could total up to $49 million to conduct medical studies for the U.S. Air Force.
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