Our History

The Boston University School of Medicine and the Boston Medical Center (BMC) have a rich history that reflects our social mission and our commitment to diversity.

Among the historic distinctions of the Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) is its dedication to equal education for women and men. BUSM was established in 1873 when the University assumed responsibility for the New   England Female Medical College.  The New England Female Medical College had been founded in 1848, the first medical college for women in the world.

Boston University Medical Center Hospital (BUMCH) was founded in 1855 as the Massachusetts Homeopathic Hospital. In 1910 the Evans Memorial Department of Clinical Research was established by a series of gifts by Mrs. Maria Antoinette Evans to endow a research department of medicine at the Hospital. The Evans Department has always functioned as an integral part of the clinical care and training programs of Boston Medical Center and of the Department of Medicine at BUSM. This is in accordance with Mrs. Evans’ stipulation that research, clinical care, and teaching should be intimately interrelated in the Department that she endowed.

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Boston City Hospital, 1878

Boston City Hospital (BCH) opened in 1864 and was the first municipal hospital established in the United States. Authorization to establish BCH came from the state legislature in 1849 to maintain “a hospital for the reception of persons who by misfortune or poverty may require relief during temporary sickness.”  Indeed, those “temporary sicknesses” were primarily infectious: tuberculosis, cholera, pneumonia, typhoid fever, diphtheria, scarlet fever, measles, and smallpox.   The resurgence of smallpox was the impetus for the creation of the Boston Board of Health in 1872; the close working relationship between the Board of Health and BMC has continued to this day.  A separate building to house patients with contagious diseases, the South Department, was opened in 1895 and was the first contagious diseases hospital in the United States and a model for the rest of the country.

In 1923 the Thorndike Memorial Laboratory was established as the first general clinical research facility in Boston and in a U.S. municipal hospital.  The Thorndike became one of the nation’s most distinguished research facilities, under the aegis of the BCH Harvard Medical Services. In 1968, the Finland Laboratory for Infectious Diseases was established at BCH in honor of Dr. Maxwell Finland, one of the most esteemed clinical investigators and teachers in Infectious Diseases.

Academic and clinical responsibility for BCH passed to Boston University in 1973.  The Thorndike and Finland Laboratories were incorporated into the research programs of the BUSM Department of Medicine.

In July, 1996, BUMCH and BCH were merged into the Boston Medical Center, a not-for-profit institution that fully retained the missions and commitments of its predecessor institutions.

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Our Future

Throughout the Section’s history, the training program has been characterized by an extraordinary combination of empowering clinical experiences, the privilege of caring for a very diverse patient population, a compelling social mission, and an outstanding academic program in one of the country’s leading research-intensive departments of medicine.  Past graduates include the current State Epidemiologist for Massachusetts and the Director of Communicable Disease Control for the Boston Public Health Commission. Our Center for HIV/AIDS Care and Research is the largest in New England serving more than 1,500 patients annually and conducting leading research. We have internationally renowned researchers in Tuberculosis and Global Health, Bacterial Pathogenesis, and Immunology.  The National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories (NEIDL), part of a national network of secure facilities, is dedicated to the development of diagnostics, vaccines and therapeutics to combat emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases.

We look forward to continuing to train the clinical and scientific leaders in Infectious Diseases.

 

Primary teaching affiliate
of BU School of Medicine