Skip to main content


Early use of TV in classroom 1950s

KU's School of Medicine was the first institution in the world to regularly use TV for medical instruction.

A timeline of achievements

The School of Medicine has more than a century of history of famous firsts and celebrated achievements.

1913: Isadore J. Wolf, M.D., was the first physician in the United States to advocate the use of digitalis in the treatment of high blood pressure.

1918: Orval J. Cunningham, M.D., developed the Cunningham Tank, a forerunner to hyperbaric medicine, which helped pioneer the iron lung, U.S. Navy diving advances, submarine rescue operations and "blue baby" procedures.

1936: Earl Padgett, M.D., with Professor George J. Hood, invented the Padgett-Hood Dermatome, revolutionizing the plastic surgery technique of skin grafting.

1948: Robert E. Stowell, M.D., established one of the premier cancer research programs in the nation at KU Medical Center, creating methods to observe cell structure and speed the fixation of tissue used on cancer research.

1949: KU Medical Center became the first institution in the world to regularly employ the use of television in medical teaching.

1950: Kurt R. Reismann, M.D., was the first scientist in the world to show there was a humoral substance, erythropoietin, that controlled red blood cell production. 

1953: Frank Allbritten, M.D., with John H. Gibbon, Jr., M.D., at Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia, performed the first successful open-heart surgery with cardiopulmonary bypass using Allbritten's ventricular vent. 

1955: The first successful open-heart surgery at KU Medical Center was performed by Frederick C. Kittle, M.D. 

1958: Creighton Hardin, MD, became the first surgeon in the Midwest to perform a kidney transplant.

1958: A transistor for the transmission of electrocardiograms by telephone was developed by E. Grey Dimond, M.D., and his associates. 

1962: Hughes W. Day, M.D., originated the concept of an acute coronary care unit for heart patients and developed the cardiac "crash cart" and the term "code blue."

1967: Norge Jerome, Ph.D., was the first person in the world to become a nutritional anthropologist.

1971: Creighton Hardin, M.D., became the first surgeon in the world to perform reattachment of a completely severed upper arm with return of function.

1976: Ralph Robinson, M.D., developed Strontium-89 for the palliation of painful bone metastases. S-89 was the first non-iodine therapeutic radiopharmaceutical ever approved by the FDA.

1976: KU Medical Center's computerized tomographic mammography (CT/M) scanner, one of only two in the world, drew women from all over the country to KU Medical Center for early diagnosis of breast cancer. 

1976: William R. Jewell, M.D., developed a new type of immunotherapy which doubled the survival rates for patients with melanoma.

1980: KU Medical Center is the first institution in the United States to use the new spinal instrumentation system, the AO (Association for Osteosynthesis) Locking Hook Spinal Rod, developed by Rae Jacobs, M.D. 

1980: Sam Dwyer, Ph.D., developed the world's first operational Picture Archiving and Communication System (PAC).

1984: The first heart transplant in Kansas and the Kansas City area is performed at KU Medical Center.  Thomas J. Bixler, M.D., led the transplant team. 

1989: Marc Asher, M.D., was one of four principals to develop the first spinal system to consciously integrate hook, wire and screw bone anchors. Known as the Isola Spine Implant System, it is widely used.

1990: Jameson Forster, M.D., successfully performs the first liver transplant in Kansas.

1991: Leone Mattioli, M.D., a KUMC pediatric cardiologist, and Bob Cox, M.D., a pediatrician in Hays, became the first clinicians in Kansas to conduct a clinical consultation via telemedicine, a video technology that connects providers and patients when distance separates the two.

1995: The first pallidal stimulation in the United States for the treatment of Parkinson's disease, is performed by Steven Wilkinson, M.D., and William Koller, M.D.

1995: Ed LeCluyse, Ph.D., was one of the few U.S. researchers to successfully grow human liver cells in a Petri dish long term.

1995: Virologist Bill Narayan, D.V.M., Ph.D., developed a virus, KU SHIV, that caused AIDS in monkeys, a breakthrough that sped the development of AIDS medications.

1996:  Joseph Beshare, Ph.D., and Carla Green, Ph.D., discover a gene thought to be a component in the working of the Circadian clock.  This was the first candidate for a Circadian clock gene in vertebrates.

1996: Donald Eckard, M.D., is the first physician in Kansas to perform a procedure that uses platinum coils to fill balloon-like aneurysms in the brain which previously had been considered inoperable.

1997: Neurologist William Koller, M.D., implanted a "brain pacemaker" in 60 patients for relief of essential tremor or Parkinson's Disease, which led to FDA approval for the new tremor control therapy.

1999: Daniel Murillo, M.D., performs the first pancreas-kidney transplant in the Kansas City area.

2002: KUMC was recognized as the world leader in the use of a gastric pacemaker for the treatment of gastroparesis.

2004:  Bill Narayan, DVM, Ph.D., develops a DNA vaccine intended to replace expensive antiretroviral therapy for HIV patients. The NIH awards Dr. Narayan a $3 million grant to test the vaccine on monkeys.

2005: Executive Dean Barbara Atkinson, M.D, added the responsilities of executive vice chancellor, becoming the first woman to hold both positions at a U.S. medical center at the same time.

2010: Dr. Sam Kim performs the first ovarian transplant in Kansas and the Kansas City area. Kim is one of only three doctors in the country who perform the procedure. 

2011: KU Medical Center receives a prestigious $20 million Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) from the NIH, which creates Frontiers: the Heartland Institute for Clinical and Translational Research.

2011: The School of Medicine opened a campus in Salina. With just eight students in each class, the campus is thought to be the smallest four-year education site in the nation.

2012: The University of Kansas Cancer Center is designated as a National Cancer Institute (NCI) cancer center, one of only 68 in the country.

Last modified: Sep 28, 2018