Skip to main content.


A summer scene at the Clendening Fountain in the 1950s.

A summer scene at the Clendening Fountain in the 1950s.

1950: Paul Harrington, M.D., (M'38), orthopedist, begins the development of the first successful spinal instrumentation system for the surgical correction of scoliosis.

1950: Kathryn Stephenson, M.D., (M'41), becomes the first woman in America to board certify in plastic surgery. Stephenson becomes the first woman to join the American Association of Plastic Surgeons in 1951.

1950: Kurt R. Reismann, M.D., professor of medicine from 1951 to 1980, demonstrates the existence of a humoral substance, later identified as erythropoietin, which controls red blood cell production:

Reissmann KR. Studies on the mechanism of erythropoietic stimulation in parabiotic rats during hypoxia. Blood. 1950 Apr;5(4):372-80. PMID: 15411424.

1950: Michael L. Furcolow, M.D., chief of the Communicable Disease Center and associate clinical professor of medicine, clarifies the natural history of human infection with histoplasmosis, a fungal disease often confused with tuberculosis, and helps to establish treatment with amphotericin B:

Furcolow ML. Further observations on histoplasmosis; mycology and bacteriology. Public Health Rep. 1950 Aug 4;65(31):965-994.

Furcolow ML. Comparison of treated and untreated severe histoplasmosis. JAMA. 1963;183(10):121-127.

March 6, 1951: Creighton Hardin, M.D., (M'43), is the first vascular surgeon in the world to perform a successful abdominal aneurysm resection in a patient by using a cadaver homograft.

May 11, 1951: The first Russell Haden Award for student research is awarded to Jerome Grunt, a medical student.

July 1951: KU Medical Center personnel administer approximately 42,000 typhoid shots to victims of a catastrophic flood that inundated Kansas City. It is the greatest natural catastrophe in the recorded history of the region.

1951: Franklin D. Murphy, M.D., is appointed chancellor of the University of Kansas.

1951: Edward H. Hashinger, M.D., is appointed acting dean of the KU School of Medicine.

1951: Mahlon Delp, M.D., is appointed chair of the Department of Postgraduate Medical Education. Over the next 10 years, the program is generally acknowledged to be one of the best in the world, attracting observers from many foreign countries.

1951: Ernst Trier Mørch, M.D., invents a ventilator to assist respiration in surgical patients. During the 1951 polio epidemic, the device is used to assist patients whose breathing mechanisms were paralyzed, essentially replacing the "Iron Lung."

1951: W.D. Francisco, M.D., (M'44), starts a cerebral palsy clinic providing multi-specialty care including neurology, speech pathology, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and other ancillary specialties.

1951: Lawrence E. Lamb, M.D., a 1949 graduate of the KU School of Medicine, serves as resident physician in internal medicine at KUMC from 1950 to 1951.  Dr. Lamb becomes a pioneering physician in aerospace medicine in the United States, culminating his career as Chief, Aerospace Medical Sciences Division, United States Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine at Brooks Air Force Base, Texas. He also writes a nationally syndicated weekly health and medicine column, "The Doctor Says."

1952: W. Clarke Wescoe, M.D., is appointed dean and director of the KU School of Medicine.

1952: Edward H. Hashinger, M.D., founds and becomes the first chair of the Department of Gerontology, one of the first gerontology programs in the United States.

1952: Galen M. Tice, M.D., professor and chair in the Department of Radiology, participates in the formation of a Teletherapy Evaluation Board at the Oak Ridge Institute of Nuclear Studies in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The board is formed to test new multi-curie radiation sources that had become available for the first time through the nation's atomic energy program, such as cesium, cobalt, and europium.

1952: The Department of Nursing Education receives temporary accreditation from the National League for Nursing.

1952: Christine Weems becomes the first African American woman to graduate from the Department of Nursing Education.

1952: Robert P. Hudson, M.D., (M'52), with Billie Jean Moore, originates the Jayhawker, MD, award. This award is presented annually by the students to the faculty member most dedicated to the primary objectives of the teaching of medical students.

1952: Rosemary Schrepfer, M.D., (M'47), is the first woman to complete a residency in obstetrics and gynecology, the first female OB-GYN specialist, and the first reproductive endocrinologist in Kansas City.

1952: Local legend Jimmy Bowers begins tending bar at the Bigger Jigger at 39th and State Line.

Fall 1953: The KU Medical Center Polio Laboratory, under Herbert Wenner, M.D., is chosen as one of 25 labs in the United States to participate in a large field trial of a vaccine developed by Jonas Salk, M.D.

1953: Victor B. Buhler, M.D., (M'34), associate clinical professor of pathology, and Ann Pollak, M.D., assistant professor of pathology and oncology, first describe the bacterium Mycobacterium kansasii, an acid-fast bacillus. The most common manifestation of M kansasii is chronic pulmonary disease similar to tuberculosis:

Buhler VB, Pollak A. Human infection with atypical acid-fast organisms; report of two cases with pathologic findings. Am J Clin Pathol. 1953 Apr;23(4):363-74.

April 1954: E. Grey Dimond, M.D., publishes Electrocardiography. The book is a distillation of five years of concentrated teaching of electrocardiography in refresher courses for physicians, resident training programs, and correspondence courses for doctors.

June 4, 1954: The Student Union Building and Battenfeld Auditorium are dedicated.

1954: Ralph H. Major, M.D., the "grand old man of the KU Medical Center," publishes a two-volume set titled History of Medicine simultaneously in the United States, Canada, and the British Commonwealth.

June 29, 1955: The first successful open-heart surgery at KU Medical Center is performed by Frederick C. Kittle, M.D.

1955: KU Medical Center celebrates its 50th anniversary.

1955: Robert P. Hudson, M.D., starts the Lunar Society as an informal literary discussion group for KU Medical Center senior medical students.

May 18, 1956: By action of the Kansas Board of Regents, the second-year medical sciences building is named in honor of Harry R. Wahl, M.D., the longest serving dean in the history of KU Medical Center (1924-1948).

1956: The Department of Nursing Education celebrates its 50th anniversary.

1956: The Department of Nursing Education at KU Medical Center and the hospital Department of Nursing are separated.

1957: A new library building housing the Clendening Library opens.

1957: Sam E. Roberts, M.D., (M'11), emeritus chair of the Department of Otolaryngology, achieves international stature after publishing Dysfunctions of the Ear, Nose, and Throat.

May 25, 1958: The Children's Rehabilitation Center is dedicated. The new building has 28,500 square feet of classrooms, treatment rooms, play areas, and offices.

June 2, 1958: Marjorie Cates, M.D., becomes the first African American woman to graduate from the KU School of Medicine.

1958: The Continuing Nursing Education office is established.

1958: Creighton Hardin, M.D., becomes the first surgeon in the Midwest to perform a kidney transplant.

1958: Nellie G. Walker, M.D., (M'34) (MPH'58), becomes the first woman director of Public Health for Kansas City, Kansas, and Wyandotte County. She serves in that capacity for 20 years.

1958: Ruth Steinberg Lambert, M.S., is appointed as the first KU Medical Center dietician whose research was devoted entirely to nutrition.

1958: E. Grey Dimond, M.D., and his associates develop a transistor for the transmission of electrocardiograms by telephone. Using a standard heart-sound microphone, heart tones and murmurs could be transmitted over standard telephone lines with excellent quality.

September 14, 1959: Ground is broken for the new U.S. Public Health Service's Communicable Disease Center. The building, named the Maurice Breidenthal Laboratory, is financed by the KU Endowment Association and leased to the federal government. It is initially used as an investigative center for research on diseases of fungal and viral origin.

1959: Stanley R. Friesen, M.D., Ph.D., professor of surgery and acting chair of surgery, becomes the first to elucidate the physiologic etiology and pathogenesis of congenital pyloric stenosis of infants. This condition causes excessive contractions of the valve between the stomach and the duodenum.

1959: The National League for Nursing grants full accreditation to KU's Department of Nursing Education.

Physical therapy class demonstration, 1950
Student nurse with patient. 1950
Typhoid inoculations following Great Flood of 1951
W. Clarke Wescoe, M.D., dean and director of the Medical Center from 1952 to 1960.
Off-duty student nurses enjoy evening entertainment in Eleanor Taylor, circa 1954.
Surgery in progress, July 1956.
KU School of Medicine

University of Kansas Medical Center
History and Philosophy of Medicine

Mail Stop 1025
3901 Rainbow Blvd.
Kansas City, KS 66160
Tel: 913-588-7098 | Fax: 913-588-7060