Johns Hopkins Medicine has a rich history rooted in philanthropy, diversity, inclusion and a passion for innovation. Over more than 125 years since the founding of the Johns Hopkins Hospital and the opening of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, we've made significant advancements that helped set a standard for other institutions and shape the medical field into what it is today.
The History of Our Hospitals
A Storied History
Who Was Johns Hopkins?
From grocer to philanthropist, a man named Johns Hopkins laid out a plan to use his wealth to establish a hospital that would provide care to anyone, regardless of sex, age or race.
History of Medical Innovation
Johns Hopkins counts many "firsts" among its achievements, including the first to use rubber gloves during surgery and the first to develop renal dialysis and cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
The Role of Women in Johns Hopkins History
From the first Johns Hopkins’ medical school class to present day, women have grown to be an integral part of John Hopkins Medicine.
Values That Withstood the Test of Time
Nearly a century and a half ago, our founder, Mr. Johns Hopkins, wrote a letter in which he established his vision for and values of The Johns Hopkins Hospital and Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Those values – respect, dignity, integrity, inclusion, excellence, and diversity – still ring true today. They continue to provide us with inspiration and direction.
Johns Hopkins Medicine: Then and Now
Then: The Johns Hopkins Billings Administration Building
The Johns Hopkins Billings building in the early 1900s. It served as a residence to doctors in training until the 1950s. As a result, those trainees came to be referred to as residents.
Now: The Johns Hopkins Billings Administration Building
Today, the Billings building houses administrative offices.
The first medical school class graduated in 1897.
The graduating class of 2017 was vastly more diverse than the first — both in terms of gender and ethnicity. Among the graduates was Nancy Abu-Bonsrah, the first black female resident in neurosurgery.
William H. Welch, the first dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, also became the founding dean of the United States’ first school of public health, which today is called the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Paul B. Rothman, M.D. (served from 2012-2022) serves as dean of the medical faculty and vice president for medicine at The Johns Hopkins University and chief executive officer of Johns Hopkins Medicine.
Then: Female Faculty
A graduate of the school of medicine, Florence Sabin was the first woman appointed full professor in the school of medicine, in 1917. A bronze statue of Sabin stands in the U.S. Capitol, honoring her many contributions to anatomy and histology.
Now: Female Faculty
Today, the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine has more than 250 tenured female faculty members, including t recently named professor Akila Viswanathan, M.D., M.P.H., M.Sc., professor of radiation oncology and molecular radiation sciences.
Students in chemistry lab, 1910
The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine is home to more than 160 basic science labs alone. More than 1,500 faculty members within the school of medicine have federal funding to support their basic, translational or clinical trials research.
Then: Surgical Practice and Training
Using small mannequins, pediatric neurogureon Benjamin Carson and his surgical team rehearse for a 2006 operation to separate siamese twins joined at the head.
Now: Surgical Practice and Training
The large single-patient rooms in The Charlotte R. Bloomberg Children’s Center building allow enough space for pediatric residents to hold training sessions.
Then: Hurd Hall
Grand rounds in the 1950s took place in Hurd Hall, named after Henry Mills Hurd, professor of psychiatry and the first director of The Johns Hopkins Hospital.
Now: Hurd Hall
Hurd Hall is still a common venue for many of the school’s featured events, including the medical students’ white coat ceremonies.
As pediatrician-in-chief at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, Edwards Park, M.D., pioneered a holistic approach to the medical care of children, combining it with intense research, training and community outreach.
Tina Cheng, M.D., M.P.H., became director of pediatrics and pediatrician-in-chief of The Johns Hopkins Hospital in 2016. Cheng was recognized for making community-integrated models of primary care to meet the needs of vulnerable individuals and families.
Then: Classroom Instruction
Physical chemistry lecture in 1903
Now: Classroom Instruction
Medical students engaged in a presentation
Then: Bedside Teaching
Bedside teaching is one of the cornerstones of academic medicine, a concept that was pioneered by Hopkins’ own Sir William Osler, one of the four founding professors of The Johns Hopkins Hospital.
Now: Bedside Teaching
In 2016, the school of medicine developed that concept even further by rolling out a Primary Care Leadership Track designed to bring medical students face to face with patients and community doctors.
Then: Landmark Surgery
In 1901, surgeon-in-chief William Halsted, an early champion of the newly discovered antiseptic techniques, invited senior members of his surgical staff to participate in an “all-star operation” as a dedication of the newly erected building bearing his name.
Now: Landmark Surgery
A surgical team led by Johns Hopkins doctors W. P. Lee, M.D., Jaimie Shores, M.D., and Gerald Brandacher, M.D., performed The Johns Hopkins Hospital’s first bilateral arm transplant using a treatment to prevent rejection of the limbs.
William H. Welch Medical Library
The Welch Library opened on December 1, 1928, named after William H. Welch, a pathologist, the first dean of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and one of Hopkins' founding physicians.
To this day, the library plays a critical role in the advancement of scientific discovery and education of doctors, nurses, public health experts and researchers. The library’s collection exceeds 400,000 physical volumes, all of which are transitioning online.