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History of the Department of Internal Medicine

History Overview

In 1943, Maxwell M. Wintrobe, MD, became the University of Utah’s first Chair of Internal Medicine at the newly formed four-year medical school. Dr. Wintrobe was a world-renowned hematologist focused on patient care, awarded the first extramural grant funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and also served as the director of the country’s earliest hematology training programs. Dr. Wintrobe’s leadership embodied the tripartite mission of academic medicine. His balanced focus on patient care, research, and education remains the cornerstone of the Department of Internal Medicine.

Since then, the Department of Internal Medicine has grown to become the largest department on campus, with 12 divisions and more than 400 faculty.

In 2019, the Department of Internal Medicine celebrated 75 years of success. Our faculty have directed life-sustaining and preventative research breakthroughs, including creating the artificial heart, artificial kidney, and dialysis. Our faculty have also discovered genes linked to breast cancer, colorectal cancer, and other life-changing diseases.

Important Dates

1905: The University of Utah introduced its first two-year medical program. Only 14 students register for classes. 

1942: The School of Medicine became a four-year program.

1943: Dr. Maxwell Wintrobe became the first Chair of Internal Medicine. 

1944: Residency training program in Medicine is established. 

1946: The National Institute of Health (NIH) awarded its first-ever grant to Maxwell Wintrobe - a grant for study of muscular dystrophy and other hereditary and metabolic disorders. The grant was renewed annually for the next 23 years. 

1946: Training program in Hematology established. 

1946: Dr. John Waldo, the first specialty-trained infectious disease physician in Utah, joined the Department of Internal Medicine. 

1950: Dr. George Cartwright established the Division of Hematology and served as the first Chief. 

1952: Newsweek article praised the U's medical school as "the Johns Hopkins of the West." 

1952: The Division of Pulmonary Disease co-founded by Drs. John McClemnet and Atilio Renzetti. 

1956: The University's Board of Regents approved plans for a $10 million medical center and hospital.

1957: Dr. Hans Hecht established the L.E. Viko Chair of Cardiology and served as the occupant for the next 7 years. 

1957: Dr. Hans Hecht established the first cardiac catheterization lab in the western US, and the first cardiac lab in the world. 

1965: Building 521 (School of Medicine) opened its doors as a unified teaching hospital, school, and research facility. 

1966: Dr. Edwin Englert, Jr. founded the Division of Gastroenterology. 

1967: Dr. Maxwell Wintrobe initiated the Cardiovascular Research and Training Institute. 

1968: Dr. Joe Quagliana was recruited to head the newly formed Division of Oncology. 

1971: The Division of General Internal Medicine was founded and led by Dr. Thomas Caine.

1981: Expansion of the University Medical Center was completed and is one of the largest hospitals in the region. 

1986: Dr. Gerald Rothstein established the Division of Geriatrics. 

1994: Mark Skolnick and Lisa Cannon-Albright successfully cloned BRCA1 breast cancer gene. 

1994: Kristen Ries, MD, transferred the only HIV/AIDs clinic in Utah to University Hospital. 

2001: The Utah Diabetes Center opened in Research Park. 

2012: The University of Utah is the first health system to disclose patient reviews and publish them online. 

2013: Utah governor Gary Herbert and Utah legislature approved increasing medical school class size from 82 to 122.

2019: 43% of University of Utah Health providers scored top 10% nationwide for patient satisfaction.