At the Forefront of Medicine Since 1898
The University of Chicago was founded in 1890 and expanded into medicine in 1898. Under then-University President William Rainey Harper, the University of Chicago temporarily became affiliated with the Rush Medical College with "the distinct purpose" of establishing a medical school when funds became available, according to Harper's Decennial address in 1902.
In 1916, the University of Chicago Board of Trustees set aside $5.3 million for construction, equipment and an endowment for an expansion into health care. However, World War I put a halt to the development. The project resumed in 1921, eventually reaching completion in 1927. By that time, costs had skyrocketed to nearly five times the original estimate.
More Than a Medical School
Dedicated on Halloween in 1927, the University of Chicago Hospitals quickly solidified under the direction of Frank Billings, MD. Expansion quickly followed:
- In 1928, the UChicago Hospitals began construction on the Home for Destitute and Crippled Children
- In 1931, it became trustee for the Country Home for Convalescent Children
- In 1938, it merged with the Chicago Lying-in Hospital
Not all growth was planned, though. In 1933, Walter Zoller gave more than $2 million to start a dental program for the poor. His funds were put to good use — by 1946, the Zoller Clinic successfully showed in clinical studies that fluoride in drinking water could help prevent tooth decay.
World War II slowed physical expansion but only accelerated research. In addition to training a record number of doctors and nurses, the University of Chicago Hospitals pioneered nuclear medicine, contributed to the development of chemotherapy and assisted the U.S. Army in the development of chloroquine as a treatment for malaria.
Expansion & Growth
During the 1950s and 1960s, the hospital's facilities doubled in size. Adding two cancer research centers, Wyler Children's Hospital, two research laboratories and other leading-edge facilities, the University of Chicago Hospitals doubles from five divisions to 10, increasing the faculty by 100 percent between 1961 and 1971. Between 1963 and 1974, the size of the staff grew again.
The Brain Research Pavilion, the Aeromedical Network and the Duchossois Center for Advanced Medicine opened in the past several decades. The state-of-the-art, seven-story University of Chicago Comer Children's Hospital opened in early 2004.
In 2006, the University of Chicago Hospitals changed its name to the University of Chicago Medical Center to better reflect the integration of science and clinical activities.
A new brand, the University of Chicago Medicine, was introduced in 2012 in anticipation of the opening of a new state-of-the-art hospital. The Center for Care and Discovery, a 10-story, 1.2-million-square-foot hospital, welcomed its first patient in February 2013. The $700 million facility brings together the best minds in research and medicine, aided by the latest in technology and located adjacent to the outpatient Duchossois Center for Advanced Medicine and the Comer Children's Hospital.
Today, UChicago Medicine also has dozens of outpatient clinics around the Chicago area, including locations in downtown Chicago, the south suburbs and Northwest Indiana.
The health system comprises the University of Chicago Medical Center, Pritzker School of Medicine, the Biological Sciences Division and Ingalls Memorial, a community-based hospital and outpatient facility in Harvey, Illinois, just 30 miles south of Chicago.
Part of UChicago Medicine’s Community Health and Hospital Division, Ingalls Memorial is itself a nationally recognized community-based health system known for its pioneering expansion of large, multispecialty ambulatory clinics throughout Chicago’s South and Southwestern Suburbs.
When Ingalls joined our academic health system in the fall 2016, UChicago Medicine's network of outpatient facilities grew throughout the region. The community hospital and its ambulatory clinics came under the UChicago Medicine master brand in the fall of 2017.
In addition, UChicago Medicine’s advanced specialists in cancer, heart care, orthopaedics and other specialties help patients through clinical partnerships and joint venture programs in New Lenox, Kankakee and Northwest Indiana, among other locations.
To learn more about the history of UChicago Medicine, read For the Greatest Good to the Largest Number: A History of the University of Chicago, 1927-1977, by C.W. Vermeulen, MD, which can be found in the John Crerar Library.