University of Texas Medical Branch

The University of Texas Medical Branch is one of the oldest, largest, best-financed, and most highly-regarded medical schools in America.

UTMB traces its beginnings to 1881, when the Texas Legislature authorized founding of the University of Texas and a UT Medical Department. In a public referendum, the state’s citizens selected Austin, the capital, and Galveston, a leading commercial center, as respective sites.

One of 15 campuses of the University of Texas System, the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB), is dedicated to educating health science professionals and researchers, caring for patients, and solving biomedical puzzles through scientific inquiry.

UTMB has grown from one building, 23 students and 13 faculty members to a modern health science center with more than 70 major buildings, more than 2,800 students and more than 1,600 faculty. The 100-acre campus includes four schools, two institutes for advanced study, a major medical library, a network of hospitals and clinics that provide a full range of primary and specialized medical care, an affiliated Shriners Burns Hospital, and numerous research facilities.

The Medical Department’s first session met on Oct. 5, 1891. The 23 students and 13 faculty worked and studied in just two buildings. The John Sealy Hospital, a clinical teaching facility, opened in 1890 thanks to a $50,000 bequest from Galveston businessman John Sealy. The Medical Department building, completed in 1891, housed classrooms, laboratories and offices. Although the original hospital building has since been replaced, the Medical Department facility, now known officially as the Ashbel Smith Building, still stands today. Affectionately called “Old Red” for its ruddy exterior of red brick, granite and sandstone, the structure is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The John Sealy Training School for Nurses, founded in conjunction with the hospital’s opening in 1890, was recognized as a branch of the Medical Department in 1896. The first nursing school west of the Mississippi and one of the first U.S. nursing schools to be affiliated with a university, it is known today as the University of Texas School of Nursing at Galveston.

In 1919, the Medical Department was renamed the University of Texas Medical Branch. It functioned as the state’s only medical school until 1949. Biomedical graduate programs were begun in 1952, and a separate graduate school was established in 1969. This became the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences in 1972. The School of Allied Health Sciences, the first such school in the Southwest, opened in 1968. The Marine Biomedical Institute was established in 1969, followed by the Institute for the Medical Humanities in 1973.

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