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A nation which can place men on the moon can develop the competence and necessary compassion to care for its sick. — Health Sciences mission statement and proposed structure and governance, University of Minnesota Board of Regents, 1970

From the world’s first successful open heart surgery, to the development of one of the most widely used anti-HIV drugs, health professionals at the University of Minnesota's Academic Health Center (AHC) have made important discoveries impacting the health of people and animals worldwide. Our international reputation is built upon a long tradition of leadership in health care discovery and delivery. This legacy began long before our founding in 1970.

History project

Health sciences scholar? Librarian? History buff? Find artifacts, photos, stories, presentations, curiosities, and more blasts from the past through the Academic Health Center History Project. The project documents and preserves the institutional memory and historical events that chronicle the development of health sciences education and research at the University of Minnesota.

Oral histories

People make our past, present, and future. The Academic Health Center Oral History Project preserves and shares the personal stories of key individuals who were involved with the formation of the University's Academic Health Center, served in leadership roles, or have specific insights into the institution's history. Through their voices, learn about changes to medical education, research, patient care, and health policies during the latter half of the 20th century.

Academic Health Center timeline

2010s

2010s

2015: The University of Minnesota Medical Center (UMMC) is named a regional treatment center for Ebola -- one of only 9 in the country. A five-year $3.25 million dollar grant from the federal government to the Minnesota State Department of Health and UMMC will expand capacity and care to treat patients with Ebola or other severe, highly infectious disease.

2013: Michael Verneris, MD, and John Wagner, MD, performed the historic first cord blood transplant aimed at curing both Leukemia and HIV/AIDS.

2010: The University of Minnesota performs its 700th heart transplant.

2000s

2000s

2008: The School of Public Health led the Minnesota Taconite Workers Health Study to better understand the higher than expected rates of mesothelioma reported among men in northeastern Minnesota since the late 1980s.

2008: The Minnesota Masonic Charities presented the University of Minnesota with an extraordinary gift of $65 million—the largest gift ever made to the University—to seek the cure for cancer. In recognition of the gift, the name of the University's cancer center was changed to Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota.

2002: The Center for Drug Design was established in an effort to unite efficient, high-level research with the design and development of highly effective drugs.

2001: The Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) was founded to research and address policy and practical applications in the defense against infectious disease and bio-terrorism, and to promote bio-security and food safety.

1990s

1990s

1998: University of Minnesota Cancer Center is designated a Comprehensive Cancer Center by the National Cancer Institute for cancer research, treatment, and education. Only 41 institutions in the United States hold this highest-level designation.

1998: University researchers developed the anti-retroviral drug Abacavir, now commercially available as the anti-HIV drug Ziagen.

1992: The FDA approved Acyclovir, an antiviral medication developed by Dr. Henry Balfour at the University of Minnesota, for treatment of chickenpox.

1991: The Board of Regents approves the establishment of a cancer center as part of the University’s Academic Health Center. John Kersey, M.D. is named director.

1980s

1980s

1986: David Snowdon, Ph.D., and his colleagues at the University of Minnesota began the Nun Study, a pilot study of aging and Alzheimer's disease. The goal of the Nun Study is to determine the causes and prevention of Alzheimer's disease, other brain diseases, and the mental and physical disability associated with old age.

1980s: The University conducted early research that informed the creation of a vaccine to guard against cervical cancer.

1970s

1970s

1975: The world first successful bone marrow transplant for malignant lymphoma is performed by a team led by Dr.  John Kersey. Today, the University is an international leader in bone marrow and umbilical cord blood research, and patients from around the world come for treatment.

1970: A report to the Minnesota Higher Education Coordinating Commission the health sciences leadership acknowledged the demands of the citizens for "access to a rational health system at a reasonable cost" while noting that accommodating this change requires a "reshaping [of the University's] mission and organization. The result was the formation of the Academic Health Center.

1960s

1960s

1968: Immunologist Robert Good performed the world’s first successful bone marrow transplant. University doctors now routinely do transplants for conditions including cancer, genetic disorders, and most recently, to treat a rare and fatal skin condition.

1966: Richard Lillehei and William Kelly performed the world’s first pancreas transplant. This was the start of the University’s prominence in diabetes research and discovery.

1960s: Neurosurgeons including Lyle French, former senior vice president for health sciences, increased survival rates for those undergoing brain cancer surgery by giving the patient a type of steroid before surgery. Now, researchers continue to build on discoveries in the field of brain sciences.

1950s

1950s

1950s: Veterinary medicine professor Benjamin Pomeroy eradicated a disease in Minnesota that once affected 40% of turkeys. We continue to lead in treating infectious diseases that affect animals, as well as diseases that have the potential to move to humans.

1940s

1940s

1947: School of Public Health faculty member Ancel Keys began pioneering studies showing a link between diet and heart disease. We continue to be leaders in obesity and cardiovascular research through work in our School of Public HealthSchool of Nursing and Medical School.

1944: The School of Public Health opened.

1930s

1930s

1934: A new method for clinical trials is developed by Harold S. Diehl, M.D., director of students' health services at the University of Minnesota. During a series of trials on vaccines for the common cold, Diehl established the practice of randomly assigning trial participants to either a control or experimental group, pioneering double-blind methodology.

1920s

1920s

1920s: The research of Dr. Robert G. Green, M.D. focused on the evolutionary nature of viruses and how they cause disease. During his tenure, he created a vaccine to prevent encephalitis in foxes. Based on this work with viruses, he went on to investigate how cancer cells spread in the body.

1910s

1910s

1911: Elliot Memorial Hospital opened as the first hospital in the University of Minnesota health system. Elliot was one of the first teaching hospitals to be fully integrated into and staffed by a university medical school.

1900s

1900s

1909: The University Hospitals first opened their doors in an old fraternity house and patients were offered care for free.

1890s

1890s

1892: The campus's first medical education building is built, called Medical Hall. It was renamed for the dean upon his death in 1906, becoming Millard Hall. The College of Pharmacy is established.

1880s

1880s

The University began offering classes in medicine and veterinary medicine, and the schools of dentistry and nursing opened.

1870s

1870s

The University began to offer coursework in public health.

Timelines

Health sciences timelines—The Academic Health Center Oral History Project includes timelines for the Academic Health Center, its six colleges and schools, and University hospitals and clinics.

Medical School timeline—Find firsts, milestones, and innovations since the Medical School's founding in 1888.

College of Pharmacy timeline—Highlights from the college's history since its founding in 1892.

Masonic Cancer Center timeline—Milestones in University of Minnesota cancer research and care.

Library resources

University Archives—Archival information and special collections from the University of Minnesota

University Digital Conservancy—Search digital archives from the University of Minnesota 

University of Minnesota Libraries:

Wangensteen Historical Library of Biology and Medicine

Bio-Medical Library

Veterinary Medical Library

Study health science history

Program in the History of Medicine