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History

GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences is the 11th oldest medical school in the United States. View the timeline below to see the history of the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences

  • 1844

    First General Hospital in Nation's Capital
    The GW Infirmary began operation as the first general hospital in the nation’s capital. The medical department basically gained a teaching hospital.

  • 1853

    Treatment of Abraham Lincoln
    Abraham Lincoln received medical treatment from Robert King Stone, MD, a former dean of the medical faculty (1853) and faculty member at GW.

  • 1861

    College Hill Becomes a Hospital
    During the Civil War, the government took the medical infirmary and the College Hill property. When fire destroyed the infirmary in 1861, the College Hill building became a hospital and, with 884 beds, served as one of the four major military hospitals throughout the war.

  • 1865

    National Medical College Professors Try to Revive Lincoln After Assassination
    April 12, 1865: Albert Freeman Africanus King, MD 1861, who would go on to become professor and chair of obstetrics and serve as dean of the National Medical College (what would become Columbian Medical School) from 1879 to 1894, climbs from his seat just below the president’s box to join in the effort to revive the president. Stone is summoned to Lincoln’s deathbed. A National Medical College professor of surgery and anatomy and another former dean, John F. May, MD, attended the deathbed of Abraham Lincoln. May was later called to identify the body of John Wilkes Booth.

  • 1884

    First Four Women Successfully Petition for Admission   
    Four women — Ellen W. Cathcart, Sarah A. Schull, Alice J. White, and Clara Bliss Hinds — are the first to successfully petition for admission to the National Medical College. In 1887, Clara Bliss Hinds becomes the first woman to earn a medical degree from what would become George Washington University. By 2020, 58% of GW MD students were women.

  • 1892

    First Korean American to Graduate   
    Seo “Phillip” Jaisohn, MD 1892, becomes the first Korean American graduate of National Medical College.

  • 1893

    Walter Reed, MD Joins Faculty   
    Walter Reed, MD, joins the faculty as a professor of bacteriology.

  • 1898

    Preparatory School Becomes New Hospital   
    The Preparatory School on H street is remodeled to become the new hospital.

  • 1903

    Name Change to Columbian Medical School   
    National Medical College becomes Columbian Medical School.

  • 1928

    School of Medicine, the School of Nursing, and the University Hospital Established   
    The Department of Medicine becomes the School of Medicine, the School of Nursing, and the University Hospital.

  • 1948

    GW Hospital Opens at Pennsylvania and 23rd St.   
    GW Hospital opens at the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and 23rd Street.

  • 1955

    Julius Axelrod, PhD ’55, Receives his Doctor of Philosophy in Pharmacology   
    Julius Axelrod, PhD ’55, receives his Doctor of Philosophy in pharmacology. In 1970, he earns the Nobel Prize in Medicine. In 1971, he receives an Honorary Doctor of Laws from GW. In 1974, Axelrod becomes a professorial lecturer in pharmacology at GW.

    Vincent deVigneaud, PhD, Receives the Nobel Prize in Chemistry   
    Vincent deVigneaud, PhD, receives the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his research on biochemically important sulphur compounds and the first synthesis of a polypeptide hormone. He conducted much of his work at GW during his time as a professor of biochemistry in the medical school from 1932–38.

  • 1959

    First Black student, James Edwin Jackson, MD ’59, MPH, to Earn Medical Degree from GW    
    James Edwin Jackson, MD ’59, MPH, becomes the first Black student to earn his medical degree from GW. Jackson would go on to become a nationally renowned OB-GYN.

  • 1968

    Clinical Partnership Established Between GW's Medical School and Children's National Hospital   
    GW's Medical School and Children’s National Hospital (Children’s National) establish a clinical partnership basing the school’s Department of Pediatrics at Children’s National and providing joint appointments to the pediatrics faculty members. Since then, SMHS students have rotated through a pediatric hospital rather than a Department of Pediatrics.

  • 1969

    H.B. Burns Memorial Building Becomes Clinical Space   
    H.B. Burns Memorial Building, home to the GW Medical Faculty Associates, is renovated to serve as clinical space. The building at 2150 Pennsylvania Ave. was listed on the District of Columbia Inventory of Historic Sites and the National Register of Historic Places in 2010.

  • 1972

    The Walter G. Ross Hall Opens on 23rd and Eye Streets    

    GW Launches the Physician Assistant Program   
    GW launches the Physician Assistant Program under the leadership of Thomas E. Piemme, MD.

  • 1973

    GW's Medical School Becomes "School of Medicine and Health Sciences"   
    On May 17, 1973, the Board of Trustees, at the annual meeting, approves the change of the medical school's name to the School of Medicine and Health Sciences.

  • 1981

    GW Hospital Successfully Treats Wounded President Reagan after Assassination Attempt   
    The attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan puts GW Hospital in the spotlight as it successfully treats the wounded president. Joseph Giordano, MD, RESD ’73, former chair of the Department of Surgery and Lewis B. Saltz Professor of Surgery, who headed GW Hospital’s trauma team in 1981, was among the first doctors to treat the president. Benjamin Aaron, MD, now emeritus professor of surgery, was the lead surgeon during the two-hour emergency operation. Sol Edelstein, MD, professor of emergency medicine and anesthesiology; Samuel Spagnola, MD, professor of medicine; and Jack Zimmerman, MD ’64, emeritus professor of anesthesiology, all attended to the president during his first night following surgery.

    First Case of AIDS in the District of Columbia   
    Gary Simon, MD, PhD, Walter G. Ross Professor of Medicine and director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at GW SMHS, identifies the first case of AIDS in the District of Columbia.

  • 1997

    GW School of Public Health and Health Services Established    

    Originally part of GW SMHS, the GW School of Public Health and Health Services is established.

    GW and Universal Health Services Inc. (UHS) Form Partnership   
    GW and Universal Health Services Inc. (UHS), a King of Prussia, PA-based health care management company, form a partnership — The District Hospital Partners, LP. Under the agreement, UHS owns 80% of GW Hospital and the university maintains a 20% stake.

  • 1999

    GW SMHS Launches the Office of International Medical Programs (IMP)   
    GW SMHS launches the Office of International Medical Programs (IMP), charged with cultivating global partnerships to create transformational mutual exchange in medical education, training, and research. IMP has developed, coordinated, and completed more than 150 projects in over 50 countries, touching the lives of more than 12,000 health care professionals, students, and patients around the globe.

  • 2001

    Vice President Dick Cheney Receives Treatment at GW Hospital   
    Vice President Dick Cheney receives a balloon angioplasty at GW Hospital. In June, he returns to GW to receive a cardioverter-defibrillator. In 2010, he returns to GW Hospital following his fifth heart attack.

  • 2002

    GW Opens the New GW Hospital   
    GW opens the new GW Hospital, the city’s first new hospital in more than 30 years, across 23rd Street from the previous facility.

  • 2011

    First Openly Gay Man, Jeffrey S. Akman, MD ’81, RESD ’85, Appointed as Vice President for Health Affairs and Dean, GW SMHS   
    GW appoints Jeffrey S. Akman, MD ’81, RESD ’85, to be vice president for health affairs and dean of GW SMHS, making him the first openly gay man to hold the positions. In 2015, Akman was named to the Presidential Advisory Council on AIDS.

  • 2010

    The School of Nursing Created   
    The School of Nursing is created, but GW has taught nursing students for more than 100 years.

    Grant Received to Create The Developmental Center for AIDS Research (CFAR)   
    Alan Greenberg, MD ’82, MPH, professor and chair of the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at GW, and Gary Simon, MD, PhD, Walter G. Ross Professor of Medicine and director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at GW SMHS, receives a five-year starter grant from the National Institutes of Health to become a Developmental Center for AIDS Research (CFAR). Five years later, in 2015, the center receives full accreditation and becomes the DC CFAR. In 2020, the center’s accreditation is renewed.

    Award Establishes the Clinical and Translational Science Institute at Children’s National   
    GW SMHS and Children’s National receive a five-year, $20 million Clinical and Translational Science Award from the National Institutes of Health, one of only 60 such awards nationwide, to accelerate basic laboratory research discoveries into clinical practice. The award establishes the Clinical and Translational Science Institute at Children’s National, which continues to be a CTSA-funded institute.

  • 2013

    Office of Diversity and Inclusion Established   
    Dean Akman establishes the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at SMHS to attract and support talented students, faculty, and staff inclusive of those who are traditionally underrepresented in medicine and to foster a culture and climate that appreciates the added value of diversity.

  • 2011

    Ferid Murad, MD, PhD, Joins GW SMHS
    Nobel Prize winner Ferid Murad, MD, PhD, joins GW SMHS as a university professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine.

  • 2018

    GW Hospital Selected to Oversee Construction on Cedar Hill Regional Medical Center – GW Health   
    GW Hospital is selected by the District of Columbia to oversee the construction and opening of a new hospital and health complex in southeast Washington, D.C., on the campus of St. Elizabeth’s East. Upon its completion, estimated for 2023, GW will be home to the two newest hospitals in the city.

  • 2019

    GW SMHS Launches the Governor’s Health Sciences Academy   
    GW SMHS launches the Governor’s Health Sciences Academy at T.C. Williams High School, a pipeline program designed to help prepare high school students for targeted careers, raising student aspirations, attracting more students to postsecondary education in preparation for technical careers, and meeting the workforce needs of existing business and industry.

  • 2020

    Barbara L. Bass, MD, RESD '86, Becomes First Woman To Serve as Both GW SMHS Dean and GW Medical Faculty Associates CEO   
    GW appoints Barbara L. Bass, MD, RESD ’86, vice president for health affairs and dean of GW SMHS and CEO of The GW Medical Faculty Associates, making her the first person to hold all three positions and the first female vice president and dean.

  • 2021

    GW SMHS Chosen as COVID-19 Clinical Trial Test Site   
    GW SMHS is chosen as one of the phase III clinical trial sites to test the Moderna mRNA-1273 COVID-19 vaccine.

    Government Leaders, GW Workforce Receive First COVID-19 Vaccines   
    Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) join GW clinical enterprise leadership and five members of the GW health care workforce to receive some of the first vaccinations as part of the official kickoff of the federal government’s COVID-19 vaccination initiative, Dec. 14, 2020.