Department Origins

The University of Massachusetts Medical School was created by an act of the Massachusetts legislature in 1962. Worcester was chosen as its location and the University of Massachusetts Medical Center was developed as the University’s hospital. The first medical students were admitted in 1970. Within a few years, the class size increased to 100 where it remained until 2008 when plans were formulated to gradually increase the size to 125 over two years. With the exception of a maximum of 10 combined MD, PhD students, all medical students are Massachusetts residents. Today, the Worcester campus, referred to as the University of Massachusetts Medical School, includes three schools: the School of Medicine, the Graduate School of Biological Sciences and the Graduate School of Nursing. The Worcester campus is one of five campuses of the University of Massachusetts system which includes campuses in Amherst (the flagship campus), Lowell, Dartmouth and Boston. Leadership of the Worcester campus is provided by Chancellor Michael Collins, M.D. who also serves as Senior Vice-President for the Health Sciences for the five campuses of the University. Terence Flotte, M.D. is the Dean of the Medical School as well as Provost and Executive Vice Deputy Chancellor of the Medical School. In these roles he serves as chief academic and administrative officer of the School of Medicine, and oversees all academic activities of the basic and clinical science departments including education and research for the School of Medicine and the Graduate School of Biological Sciences. Of particular note, Dr. Craig Mello received the 2006 Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology for his pioneering work on RNA interference, and more recently, the Medical School received one of the prestigious Clinical and Translational Science Awards from the National Institutes of Health.

In 1998, the state divested itself of the ownership of its hospital and medical group. The University of Massachusetts Medical Center, a state institution, merged with the Medical Center of Central Massachusetts, a not-for-profit community entity, to form UMass Memorial Health Care, also a not-for-profit entity. Legislation governing these changes was written to emphasize the “linked destinies” of the clinical system and the medical school. Departments were established to provide leadership through their Chairs for both clinical and academic activities, with each Chair reporting directly to the medical school Dean and the hospital CEO.

Today, UMass Memorial Health Care is a $1.8 billion health system and is the 11th largest employer in Massachusetts. UMass Memorial Medical Center encompasses three campuses: University, Memorial and Hahnemann. Affiliated hospitals include Marlboro (Marlboro, MA), Health Alliance (Fitchburg, Leominster, MA) and Wing (Palmer, MA).

The first chair of the Department of Anesthesiology was Dr. Michael Stanton-Hicks (1977-1982). He was succeeded by Drs. Gary Welch (1982-1990), Gordon Chapman (interim 1990-1994) and Charles Vacanti (1994-2002). Stephen Heard, M.D. was appointed interim chair in 2002 and was named permanent chair in November, 2003.

The Department of Anesthesiology is composed of two divisions: a group practice academic section that provides services on the University campus, Hahnemann campus (day surgery) and Marlboro Hospital (a hospital independent of UMass Memorial Medical Center but owned by UMass Memorial Health Care) and a private practice group (Central Massachusetts Anesthesia Associates) that provides anesthesia coverage to the Memorial Campus including OB.

From 1976 to 1986, the Department of Anesthesiology ran the only full time totally dedicated Pain Clinic in New England. Currently, the Pain Clinic is located on the Memorial Campus within the Spine Center. The director is Dr. Richard Pavao.

The anesthesiology residency was formed in 1977. Danna Peterson, MMBS, was the first program director for the residency. Eleanor Duduch, MD, a UMass Medical School graduate and a graduate of this residency, has been the program director since 2001. We enjoy over 600 applications each year to the residency. An accredited critical care fellowship was established in 1989. Khaldoun Faris, M.D. is the fellowship program director.