History of the University of Minnesota Medical School

The first classes in medicine at the University of Minnesota began in 1888 when three of the four private, or proprietary, medical schools in Minneapolis and St. Paul offered their charters and resources to the state. In accepting this offer, the Board of Regents assumed responsibility for medical education on behalf of the people of Minnesota. In 1908 the remaining proprietary school was incorporated into the University of Minnesota Medical School. In 1969 the legislature appropriated planning funds for a two-year medical basic science program at the University of Minnesota, Duluth, and in 1971 provided additional support for development of the Duluth school. The charter class in Duluth's School of Medicine began in 1972.

In 1905 money for the construction of a hospital was offered to the University by the estate of Augustus F. Elliot. After various delays, legislative approval and additional money were obtained. The Elliot Memorial Hospital, the first unit of University Hospitals on the Twin Cities Campus, was dedicated in 1911. The act of acceptance passed by the legislature stated that the hospital would belong to and be a part of the University, that indigent residents of Minnesota would receive free care and treatment, and that the hospital would be controlled by the University regents. The legislature provided funds for the building of the Institute of Anatomy (Jackson Hall) and Millard Hall, both completed in 1912.

Additional hospital and Medical School buildings have been built with private gifts, supplemented by state and federal funding. These include the Todd Hospital and Christian Hospitals (1925), Eustis Hospital (1929), Variety Club Heart Hospital (1950), Mayo Memorial Building (1954), Masonic Cancer Center and Veterans of Foreign Wars Cancer Research Center (1958), Diehl Hall (1960), Children's Rehabilitation Center, Dwan Variety Club Cardiovascular Research Center (1975), the Phillips-Wangensteen Building (1978), Nils Hasselmo Hall (formerly called the Basic Science and Biomedical Engineering Building) (1997), and the Molecular and Cellular Biology Building (2001). The main hospital services were moved into a new University Hospital in 1986. In 1996 the University Hospital merged with the Fairview Hospital System to become what is now termed the University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview (UMMC). In 2011 the new building for the Amplatz Children's Hospital, part of the Fairview System, was opened on Fairview's Riverside Campus.

The Biomedical Discovery District, which provides a focal point for the work being done in the five "research corridors" which include cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, brain sciences, and infectious diseases, includes the Lions Research Building (1992), McGuire Translational Research Facility (2005), Center for Magnetic Resonance Research (2010), Winston and Maxine Wallin Medical Biosciences Building (2009), and the Cancer-Cardiovascular Facility (under construction).

The Medical School has a rich tradition of research and clinical achievements. The excellence of the Medical School's programs can be traced to the early development of strong departments in the basic medical sciences closely linked to the laboratory of the State Board of Health, and to the emergence in the 1920s of clinical departments active in clinical investigation. The pursuit of research in all departments has infused the whole school with a spirit of scientific inquiry, and advances in the practice of medicine.

The decision to begin a two-year medical school on the Duluth campus of the University of Minnesota was made by the Minnesota Legislature in an effort to increase the number of physicians who would serve Greater Minnesota. From its inception, the School of Medicine-Duluth was administratively separate from the Medical School in the Twin Cities. The dean of the school did not report to the chancellor of the Duluth campus but instead reported to the senior vice president for health sciences on the Twin Cities campus.

For more than 30 years of its existence, the School of Medicine-Duluth remained a fully accredited two-year school. In 1998, the LCME determined that the School of Medicine-Duluth would no longer be permitted to be separately accredited. At the same time, the LCME pointed out that the mission of the Duluth school had been accomplished with distinction and that the unique character and mission of the campus should be maintained within the larger University of Minnesota Medical School. The Duluth Campus is now led by a Regional Campus Dean who reports to the Dean of the Medical School.

Return to:  Medical Education : Medical School : AHC : U of M

© 2016 Regents of the University of Minnesota. All rights reserved.
The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer.