The Academic Health Center’s international reputation is built upon a long tradition of leadership in health care discovery and delivery. This legacy began long before our founding in 1970.
The School of Public Health opened in 1944, though the University offered coursework in public health dating back to the 1870s.
From the world’s first successful open heart surgery, to the development of one of the most widely used anti-HIV drugs, our health professionals have made many discoveries that have impacted the health of people and animals worldwide.
A few notable milestones include:
- School of Public Health faculty member Ancel Keys began pioneering studies showing a link between diet and heart disease in 1947. We continue to be leaders in obesity and cardiovascular research through work in our School of Public Health, School of Nursing and Medical School.
- Richard Lillehei and William Kelly performed the world’s first pancreas transplant in 1966. This was the start of the University’s prominence in diabetes research and discovery.
- Immunologist Robert Good performed the world’s first successful bone marrow transplant in 1968. University doctors now routinely do transplants for conditions including cancer, genetic disorders, and most recently, to treat a rare and fatal skin condition.
- Veterinary medicine professor Benjamin Pomeroy researched turkey diseases starting in the 1930s. By the mid-1950s, he had eradicated a disease in Minnesota that once affected 40% of turkeys. We continue to lead in treating infectious diseases that affect animals, as well as diseases that have the potential to move to humans.
- In the early 1960s, neurosurgeons including Lyle French, former senior vice president for health sciences, increased survival rates for those undergoing brain cancer surgery by giving the patient a type of steroid before surgery. Now, researchers continue to build on discoveries in the field of brain sciences.