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Rush Medical College > History of Rush Medical College
About Rush University
Anticipating its one hundred seventy-fifth anniversary in 2012, Rush Medical College's history represents an extraordinary legacy in the history of American medicine. Daniel Brainard, MD, a young New York native educated in Philadelphia, founded Rush not long after his arrival in the village of Chicago. The new college, like its city, gained its charter the first week of March 1837.

Dr. Brainard named Chicago's first medical college, one of the first west of older eastern schools, in honor of Benjamin Rush, MD, a physician-statesman who was a signer of the Declaration of Independence.

During the 19th century Rush grew with its dynamic city. In the manner of most medical schools in the 1800s, Rush was a proprietary institution owned and operated by a group of physicians who had joined Dr. Brainard in establishing practices in young Chicago.

By the beginning of the 20th century, Rush was among the nation's largest and most distinguished medical schools. At that time Rush's faculty "proprietors" accepted a proposal to affiliate with the then-new University of Chicago. It was a happy development for both institutions. University affiliation brought Rush the research academic connection central to twentieth century medical school organization. Futhermore, the university helped Rush students and faculty create a "new" Rush whose reputation equaled that of the earlier Rush.

However, by World War II, Rush and the University of Chicago became convinced that their affiliation no longer suited their respective missions. In 1942 Rush developed an affiliation with the University of Illinois' College of Medicine. That college was the Chicago west side medical district neighbor of Rush and Presbyterian Hospital, its traditional teaching facility. Central to the new arrangement was the decision to suspend medical education except for a role at Presbyterian Hospital for clinical care teaching of advanced students.

The agreement included the opportunity to reconsider in the late 1960s. At that time Rush Medical College accepted the proposal of Presbyterian-St. Luke's Hospital to merge its historic charter with the large teaching hospital and to resume accepting students studying for the doctor of medicine. In 1956 Chicago's distinguished St. Luke's Hospital had accepted Rush's teaching hospital's invitation to merge to organize the critical mass of resources contemporary teaching medical centers need.

Rush trustees and alumni were impressed by budding plans for The Rush System for Health. Impressive plans for a new medical complex were presented as the College considered renewing full instructional capabilities as part of the Rush University Medical Center. A renewed and revitalized Rush Medical College would be a key educational component to help guarantee the success of the comprehensive vision for healthcare research, education, and delivery the Rush System for Health represented. System plans, articulated originally by a group of distinguished physicians at Presbyterian-St. Luke's Hospital, continues to inspire the growth and development of Rush University Medical Center and Rush University.

In the first decade of the 21st century, 170 year old Rush Medical College continues to animate the Rush System for Health as the center for research, education and clinical care implicit in Dr. Brainard's 1837 hopes. During the last quarter century, Rush Medical College has re-established its place as a locus of research and medical education.

Extraordinary physicians characterize all eras of Rush Medical College's history. The people behind Rush's history are too numerous to list completely. The following page lists a few of Rush-associated physicians whose research and clinical contributions are well remembered.

DANIEL BRAINARD, MD, 1812-1866 First to: *Use ether as an anesthetic (1847) *Perforate fragment ends to wire fractured bones. (1852) *Describe Illinois' first knee joint arthroplasty. (1860)

AUSTIN FLINT, SR., MD, 1812-1886 * Presented first public lecture in Chicago on medical ethics.

WILLIAM H. BYFORD, MD, 1817-1890 *Originated plan for draining discharging pelvic abscess by dilating abscess opening.

NATHAN SMITH DAVIS, MD, 1817-1904 *Known as "Father of American Medical Association" for his efforts in funding that organization. (1847)

DAVID JONES PECK, MD *First African- American man to receive the Doctor of Medicine degree from a United States medical school (Rush). (1847)

JAMES VAN ZANDT BLANEY, MD, 1820-1874 *Opened Chicago's first medical dispensary. (1839) *Established Chicago's first medical journal. (1844) *Invented synthetic fruit flavors later used at soda fountains.

MOSES GUNN, MD, 1822-1887 *Discovered that dislocations were reduced more effectively under anesthesia.

JOHN HENRY RAUCH, MD, 1828-1894 *Organized public health service of Chicago. *Initiated public school vaccination in Illinois.

CHRISTIAN FENGER, MD, 1840-1902 *Performed first hysterectomy in Chicago. *First Chicago physician to explore brain with an aspirating needle.

NICHOLAS SENN, MD, 1844-1908 *First to use roentgen rays to treat leukemia. (1903) *Demonstrated possibilities and limitations of pancreatic surgery. *Founded the Association of Military Surgeons of the United States. (1891)

FRANK BILLINGS, MD, 1854-1932 *Researched the germ cause of disease, contributing the concept of focal infection, which helped explain at that time the cause of strange diseases of unknown origin.

JOHN B. MURPHY, MD, 1857-1916 *Invented the "Murphy Button" for abdominal surgery. *Pioneered immediate surgery for appendicitis. *Pioneered in suturing arteries and veins and in the surgery of bones, joints and tendons.

LEWIS LINN McCARTHUR, MD, 1858-1934 *First to perform appendectomy through a muscle splitting incision. (1894)

ARTHUR DEAN BEVAN, MD, 1861-1943 *Originated procedure for exposing the gallbladder without cutting important nerves. *Originated operation for the undescended testis. *First to perform surgery under ethylene gas.

JAMES BRYAN HERRICK, MD, 1861-1954 *Discovered sickle cell anemia. (1910) *First to describe coronary heart disease. (1911) *Demonstrated pattern of coronary occlusion on electrocardiogram.

LUDWIG HEKTOEN, MD, 1863-1951 *First to grow blood cultures from living patients. *Suggested that transfusion reaction could be avoided when donor and recipient blood groups matched.

BERTRAM WELTON SIPPY, MD, 1866-1924 *Developed special diet to neutralize acidity associated with ulcers. *Perfected use of the esophagoscope.

ROLLIN WOODYATT, MD, 1878-1953 *First to use insulin in Chicago to treat diabetes. *Produced insulin at Rush with biochemist E.J. Witzmann.

ERMAN KRETSCHMER, MD, 1879-1951 *First to perform transurethral resections in Chicago.

GEORGE F. DICK, MD, 1881-1967 *Discovered, with his wife, Gladys Dick, MD, the cause of scarlet fever and developed an immunization to treat the disease.

EDWIN F. HIRSCH, MD, 1886-1972 *Developed method for determining the amount of fat in arteries, which contributed to the understanding of the relationship between arteriosclerosis and dietary fat.

Featured in photo at top of page, Daniel Brainard (1812-1866)


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