Historical timeline puts UMMS growth, achievements in focus

Online resource reveals steady and sustained growth of young academic health sciences center

By Sandra Gray

UMass Medical School Communications

December 11, 2014
  UMass Medical School groundbreaking, 1969, Lamar Soutter Library, Historical timeline,
  The timeline includes milestones in the history of the institution, many accompanied by photos such as this one of the 1969 groundbreaking for the Medical School building. On the far right is founding dean Lamar Soutter.

The Lamar Soutter Library often fields requests about UMass Medical School’s history. But when someone asked, ‘Do you have a timeline on your website?’ a light bulb went on for Ellen More, PhD. “I thought this was a really great idea!” said Dr. More, a medical historian who is head of the library’s Office of Medical History and Archives.

A year-and-a-half in the making, the new Historical Timeline of UMass Medical School was unveiled by the library this fall. The searchable online reference is a convenient compendium of milestone events and the individuals who made them happen during the institution’s meteoric rise from a newbie med school to the top-tier academic health sciences center it is today.

Compiled by Kristine Reinhard Sjostedt, MLS, information literacy/special collections librarian, the timeline begins in 1962 with the Massachusetts Senate’s acceptance of a recommendation to establish the state’s first and still only four-year public medical school, to be affiliated with the University of Massachusetts. It progresses through the School of Medicine’s opening in 1970 with the 16 members of the school’s inaugural Class of 1974; the opening of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences with seven PhD students in 1979; and of the establishment of the Graduate School of Nursing with 30 students in 1986.  

“As we built the timeline, we were surprised to see a lot of firsts,” said Sjostedt.

Examples include establishment of the first-of-its-kind Stress Reduction Clinic (now the world-renowned Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care and Society) in 1979; the award of a $10 million contract from the National Institutes of Health for the nation's first multi-center major research study on women's health in 1994; and receipt of the University’s first Nobel Prize by Craig Mello, PhD, in 2006.

The timeline will be updated monthly to keep it current.

“What we have been able to discover from this timeline is a sense of how long it has taken and how steady and persistent have been the gains that we have made in the scientific enterprise at UMass Medical School,” said More.

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