History of the Department of Medicine at Boston Medical Center

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 through a series of gifts by Mrs. Maria Antoinette Evans to endow a research department of medicine at the Hospital. Her purpose was to create a memorial to her husband, Robert Dawson Evans and improve public health through clinical research. The Evans Department of Medicine was one of the few research institutions of its kind when its activities began in 1912. It remains one of the few separately endowed departments of medicine in the country. The Evans Endowment provides critically important resources to the research and education programs of the department. Indeed, the Evans Endowment has enabled the department to invest in research faculty, training programs, and research infrastructure such as buildings and research cores throughout its history. More recently, it has provided funding for a core group of dedicated educators who work closely with the Vice Chairs, Program Directors and Chief Residents in developing innovative curricula and teach and mentor house staff as well as students. The past Chairs of the department are shown below.

Chairs of the Evans Deparment of Medicine
Dr. David Coleman 2006 –
Dr. Joseph Loscalzo 1997 – 2005
Dr. Norman Levinsky 1972 – 1997
Dr. Robert Wilkins 1960 – 1972
Dr. Chester S. Keefer 1939 – 1960
Dr. Reginald H. Fitz 1935 – 1939
Dr. Allen W. Rowe 1930 – 1935
Dr. Henry M. Pollock 1918 – 1930
Dr. Frank C. Richardson 1912 – 1918

Boston City Hospital (BCH) opened in 1864 and was established to provide care for the indigent patients of Boston. In 1923, the Thorndike Memorial Laboratory was established with support provided by Dr. George L. Thorndike in memory of his brother, William, a long-time BCH staff member. 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, a leading clinical investigator in infectious diseases. When academic and clinical responsibility for BCH passed exclusively to Boston University in 1973, these laboratories were incorporated into the research programs of the Department of Medicine faculty.

In July 1996, BUMCH and BCH merged to form the Boston Medical Center, a not-for-profit institution that fully retains the missions and commitments of its predecessor institutions. Indeed, BMC is the largest safety net hospital in New England and has the largest ambulatory program on campus of any of the academic medical centers in Boston based on the number of outpatient visits.

The Boston Veterans Administration Medical Center was the first Dean’s Committee VA hospital, that is, the first specifically designated as a teaching hospital. It is a major training site for students, residents, and fellows from Boston University and Harvard Medical School affiliated institutions. The Boston VA Healthcare System is among the leading research-intensive VA hospitals in the country.

Today, the Department of Medicine is based at the Boston University School of Medicine and at two principal teaching hospitals: Boston Medical Center (BMC), and the Boston Veterans Administration Health Care System (BVAHCS). The medical residency and fellowship programs take advantage of training facilities in both hospitals. Affiliations with Neighborhood Health Centers in Boston are important additional components of the clinical and teaching activities of the department.