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The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine: 125 Years of Tradition and Innovation

The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine: 125 Years of Tradition and Innovation

From the day the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine opened its doors in 1893 to 18 students—three of them women—it has pursued a mission to create a worldwide legacy of education, research and patient care.

To celebrate that 125-year history, hundreds of faculty, staff, students and alumni came together on June 1 in Turner Auditorium on the East Baltimore campus for a symposium that featured remarks from university leaders and elected officials, as well as video highlights recounting the medical school’s impact in Baltimore, and the state of Maryland, nation and world. The symposium was one of many events throughout the school of medicine's 2018 reunion and alumni weekend, aptly themed "Home to Hopkins."

Speaking on the theme, “Where Tradition Meets Innovation,” Johns Hopkins University President Ronald J. Daniels and Paul B. Rothman, dean of the medical faculty and CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine, shared what distinguishes the institution from other academic centers: pioneering research that has led to treatments for conditions such as sickle cell anemia, Lou Gehrig’s Disease and Marfan’s Syndrone; a medical curriculum for students that, from the very beginning, has offered hands-on training in the lab and at the bedside; and curious faculty members who have earned international recognitions such as the Nobel Prize and Lasker Awards.

In more recent years, Johns Hopkins physicians and scientists are responsible for the lifesaving infection prevention checklist, a five-way kidney transplant and bilateral arm transplant, and advances in attacking the Zika virus’ relationship with microcephaly, and cancer immunotherapy. View a timeline video of some of our breakthroughs.

Dean/CEO Rothman spoke about feminist and philanthropist Mary Elizabeth Garrett’s role in Hopkins history. Garrett, he reminded, contributed the final and largest portion of cash needed to establish a medical school that required that women and men be admitted with the same qualifications.

Reflecting on his tenure as dean/CEO, Rothman said, “It is a unique institution. I’ve been here for six years and it’s the only medical center I know of where the word ‘cure’ is used not randomly, but often, because that's our goal: to cure human suffering and diseases.”

Daniels said, “The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine has never lost sight of the deeply humane objectives that William Welch and his fellow founder and successor as dean, William Osler, committed to 125 years ago: to pursue discovery in the advancement of human welfare, or more simply with focus always on the patient.” He added, “From this core principle have emerged discoveries ranging from the targeted use of radiation to treat cancer, to the modern pregnancy test to the creation of the field of medical genetics, which now provides the foundation for our Genes to Society curriculum—the embodiment of the schools’ commitment to reimagine medical education in the 21st century.”

Also participating in the program were Maryland Governor Larry Hogan and Baltimore City Mayor Catherine Pugh, who spoke on the state and city’s partnership with Johns Hopkins, the largest private employer in Maryland.

After going through a list of how the state supports health care, Hogan thanked Johns Hopkins for its collaborative efforts to expand health care access and affordability to improve the quality of life for Marylanders.  

Pugh praised Johns Hopkins for its partnership on programs such as one that promotes healthier babies and another that provides free eye exams and eyeglasses to students in need. Calling “health a critical lever for social justice,” she challenged the school of medicine to work toward more innovative ways to tackle opioid addiction.

Advances at the School of Medicine

Roy Ziegelstein, vice dean for education, spoke about advances at the school of medicine since he came to Hopkins as an intern in 1986. They include:

  • An increased number of women and under-represented minorities in medical school and training programs;
  • The Genes to Society curriculum which focuses on the patient as an individual and analyzes the genetic, environmental and socioeconomic factors that affect health;
  • A new leadership program in primary care medicine;
  • An emphasis on providing high value health care in order to deliver the highest quality at the lowest cost;
  • Innovations in graduate school education that offer doctoral students career opportunities outside of academic medicine;
  • A commitment to programs that help disadvantaged students learn about, and build, careers in biomedical science.

Later the vice dean moderated a panel with several generations of school of medicine affiliates who discussed their experiences as students and trainees. Topics included technological advances, opportunities for women, maintaining a healthy balance between work and personal life, and the importance of social determinants of health.


Portrait Unveiling

Six Johns Hopkins Medicine leaders were recently honored with portraits that will remind future generations of their legacy. The likenesses of William A. Baumgartner, Gary W. Goldstein, Karen B. Haller, Michael J. Klag, Ronald R. Peterson and James L. Weiss were revealed at a symposium honoring the school of medicine’s 125th anniversary on June 1. They are part of a collection of approximately 360 commemorative portraits of individuals associated with the major health entities of Johns Hopkins—The Johns Hopkins Hospital, The Johns Hopkins Health System, Johns Hopkins Medicine, and the Johns Hopkins University schools of medicine, nursing, and public health. Watch a video of the award and portrait presentations.

The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine: 125 Years of Tradition and Innovation
William A. Baumgartner, vice dean for clinical affairs and president of the Clinical Practice Association, painting by Peter Egeli.
The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine: 125 Years of Tradition and Innovation
Gary W. Goldstein, former president and chief executive officer of the Kennedy Krieger Institute, painting by Laura Era.
The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine: 125 Years of Tradition and Innovation
Karen B. Haller, vice president of nursing and clinical affairs for Johns Hopkins Medicine International, photograph by Keith Weller.
The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine: 125 Years of Tradition and Innovation
Michael J. Klag, former dean of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, painting by Peter Egeli.
The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine: 125 Years of Tradition and Innovation
Ronald R. Peterson, former president of the Johns Hopkins Health System and executive vice president of Johns Hopkins Medicine, painting by Jim Butcher.
The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine: 125 Years of Tradition and Innovation
James L. Weiss, former associate dean for admissions, photograph by Keith Weller.
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