The history of the department of Gynecology and Obstetrics can be traced back to the founding of Johns Hopkins Hospital. We are proud to honor the contributions of our departments' physicians and researchers as they helped to change the face of obstetrics and gynecology in the United States - from their academic study to their impact on women and their babies.
The Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics Historical Timeline
1889 (Location): Howard Atwood Kelly Founds the Johns Hopkins Hospital & Department of Gynecology
Howard Atwood Kelly was the youngest of the four founders of Johns Hopkins, which included William Halstead, William Osler and William Welch. In October 1889, Kelly was appointed the first professor of gynecology and obstetrics, and is universally regarded as establishing gynecology as a surgical specialty. He was a pioneer, creating many innovative techniques, including the Kelly clamps and the Kelly stitch. Kelly’s skill as a surgeon, his detailed publications and his originality contributed to his reputation as one of the greatest gynecologists of his time. The Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics continues to honor Kelly’s legacy through its Kelly Alumni Society, Kelly Gynecologic Oncology Service and annual Kelly Lecture.
1899 (Milestone): John Whitridge Williams Becomes the First Director of Obstetrics
With the establishment of the School of Medicine in the 1890's, it was clear that maternity services education in this area would be a requirement to attain academic credibility. In 1899 John Whitridge Williams became the first professor and director of the newly established Department of Obstetrics. Williams has since come to be regarded as the founder of academic obstetrics in the United States. One of his lasting legacies is the Williams Obstetrics textbook, considered a classic of the obstetrical field, as it represented the first obstetric textbook with a scientific foundation.
1922 (Research): Dorothy Edwards Impact as the First Endowed Chair for the Department
1939 (Milestone): Richard TeLinde Becomes Director of the Department of Gynecology
1935 (Research): Nicholson Eastman's Contributions as Obstetrician-in-Chief
1960 (Milestone): Allan Barnes is First Joint Director of Gynecology and Obstetrics
In 1960, Allan Barnes was appointed as the first joint director and professor of the Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics. This represented a significant change for the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, as the two departments had always intentionally remained separate. Barnes had a vision of changing obstetrics and gynecology into a scientifically oriented discipline and sought to expand basic research initiatives in both areas. He encouraged faculty members and residents to begin research in fetal immunology, endocrinology, in vitro fertilization, laparoscopy and more. Barnes was also known as a humanist with a strong sense of social responsibility during a time of great upheaval in the United States.
1952-1989 (Document): James Woodruff Directs the Division of Gynecologic Pathology
1947-1978 (Milestone): The Impact of Howard Jones Jr. and Georgeanna Seegar Jones
1984 (Research): Edward Wallach's Effect on Reproductive Endocrinology
1988 (Milestone): Jennifer Niebyl Advances Maternal Fetal Medicine
1996 - 2013 (Research): Harold Fox Brings Stem Cell Research and Major Safety Changes to Hopkins
2013 - present (Milestone): Director Andy Satin Leads Department Into the Future
The traditions established by Kelly and Williams over 100 years ago were carried throughout the 20th century and continue at Johns Hopkins today. Presently led by Andrew Satin, the Department has experienced unprecedented investment and growth in all three arms of the tripartite mission while advocating for women's health issues. The Department was a national leader in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The distinguished faculty of The Johns Hopkins Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics represents a team of highly trained experts advancing the field through remarkable patient care, trailblazing research and comprehensive training of the next generation of women’s health leaders.
Our faculty’s research endeavors will focus on these areas in the coming years:
- Gynecologic cancers
- Benign gynecologic conditions including endometriosis, infertility, fibroids, reproductive medicine and immunology
- Fetal medicine
- Critical care obstetrics
- Utilizing the Precision Medicine Analytics Platform Ob Registry to address disparities in outcomes
- Developing physician scientists through our WRHR, BIRCWH, and RSDP programs
- Developing advanced and innovative fetal surgery techniques
- Preserving female fertility after cancer treatment
- Identifying the genes that cause infertility
- Improving methodologies for early detection of gynecologic cancers
- Researching the etiology, prevention and treatment of pelvic floor disorders
- Providing reproductive health care for women with HIV
- Genetically engineering a vaccine to ultimately eradicate precancerous cervical lesions