School of Medicine

School of Medicine History

The OHSU School of Medicine has roots dating back to the late 19th century and is one of the oldest western medical schools. In 2012, the OHSU School of Medicine celebrated the 125th anniversary of its founding.

University of Oregon Medical School, “Medical Science Building [now Mackenzie Hall], Marquam Hill, 1921,” OHSU Digital Commons.


Members of the medical department at Willamette University in Salem begin the first formal medical education program in Oregon.

Willamette University's medical education program relocates to Portland.

University of Oregon establishes a medical school in northwest Portland. The school is the only medical school in the Pacific Northwest.

Willamette University and the University of Oregon merge their medical education programs to form the University of Oregon Medical School in Portland.

The present 116-acre Marquam Hill campus gets its start with a 20-acre tract donated by the Oregon-Washington Railroad and Navigation Company, and an 88-acre tract donated by the C.S. Jackson family, former publisher of the daily Oregon Journal.

The state-wide Crippled Children's Division Program (now called the Child Development and Rehabilitation Center) is established in the School of Medicine to provide diagnostic, treatment and rehabilitation services for handicapped children.

The University of Oregon Medical School moves from downtown Portland to its present location on Marquam Hill in southwest Portland. The first building is named after Dean Mackenzie.

The University of Oregon Medical School offers Master's degrees in Anatomy, Bacteriology and Hygiene, Experimental Biology, Pathology, Pharmacology, and Physiology, at first through the University of Oregon.

The first M.A. (not M.S.) degree is awarded.

Multnomah County Hospital opens on the Marquam Hill campus and contracts with the medical school to provide services to indigent patients.

Doernbecher Memorial Hospital for Children is built on the Marquam Hill campus and becomes the first full-service children's hospital in the Pacific Northwest.

The University of Oregon Medical School takes over operation of Doernbecher.

The outpatient clinic building is constructed on Marquam Hill and outpatient services begin, providing practical experience for medical and nursing students and residents.

The School of Medicine Alumni Association was established in the home of Ivan M. Woolley, MD '19. Attendance consisted of the officers: President Woolley '19; Vice-Presidents Claude A. Lewis, MD '16 and John C. Brougher, MD '28; and, Secretary W.H. Belknap, MD '22.

The curricula from the Portland School of Social Work and the University of Oregon's nursing program are transferred to the University of Oregon Medical School to form the Department of Nursing Education in the University of Oregon Medical School in Portland.

The first Ph.D. degree is awarded (in Physiology).

The Medical Research Foundation of Oregon is founded in Baird Hall to stimulate the development of research through seed grants to biomedical scientists anywhere in Oregon and served as the fiscal agent for NIH grants to Medical School investigators for many years.

The Child Development and Rehabilitation Center facility is built on Marquam Hill.

The Medical School Hospital is built on Marquam Hill.

The Department of Nursing Education becomes the University of Oregon School of Nursing in Portland within the Oregon State System of Higher Education.

On land in Beaverton purchased by the Medical Research Foundation of Oregon, the Oregon Regional Primate Research Center, one of the nation's first seven, is established on what is today the West Campus.

The long-standing and popular rotating internship was phased out to comply with national policies for graduate medical education.

University Hospital is created through the merger of the former Multnomah County Hospital, Medical School Hospital and the outpatient clinics.

University of Oregon Health Sciences Center is formed as an independent institution under the direction of the Oregon State System of Higher Education. The Schools of Dentistry, Medicine and Nursing are brought together under a president to create this new center. The center becomes Oregon's only academic health center.

The Medical Research Foundation creates annual Discovery Awards to recognize Oregon scientists who make outstanding contributions to new knowledge and annual Mentor Awards to those providing leadership and support in health-related research. The majority have gone to faculty members.

The Division of Continuing Medical Education is formed in the Office of the Dean..

The University of Oregon Health Sciences Foundation emerges as a repository for philanthropic gifts and grants to OHSU schools, later to be directed by a largely lay board.

A geriatrics fellowship is established at the VAMC, one of the nation's earliest.

The MD/PhD program is started with Medical Research Foundation funding.

The OHSU Center for Ethics in Health Care is created to promote interdisciplinary study of ethical issues in health care.

The Biomedical Information Communication Center director is named and building is started.

The Dotter Interventional Institute is established to honor the school's pioneer in interventional radiology. The institute leads the Pacific Northwest in developing image-guided procedures and performs more than 3,000 interventional treatments annually.

The Area Health Education Centers program is established to promote better access to adequate health care throughout Oregon and to facilitate medical student primary care clerkships.

Casey Eye Institute opens on Marquam Hill to provide a central clinical, research and educational setting for eye care.

Construction is completed for the Biomedical Information Communication Center, which provides library, audiovisual and teleconferencing services, public computer services, and health informatics.

The Basic Sciences Building addition opens to improve laboratories for basic research.

The enclosed bridge between the Veteran's Affairs Medical Center and the University Hospital is opened. The 660-foot-long sky bridge allows direct transportation of patients, physicians and students, thus bonding functionally as well as symbolically the two major teaching hospitals.

Responsibility for graduate medical education transfers from the University Hospital to the Office of the Dean, thus providing continuity and integration of responsibility for medical education throughout professional careers.

An innovative new curriculum features immediate exposure of first-year medical students to clinical practices, integrated courses in the first two years, fewer lectures, a primary care clerkship at sites throughout Oregon, and the principles of student-directed and problem-solving learning.

Physicians Pavilion opens on Marquam Hill to provide clinic services for faculty practices.

Standardized and periodic internal and external reviews of Departments are instituted by the Dean.

A unique rural family medicine Graduate Medical Education programs accepts its first residents in Klamath Falls, Oregon. Since then, the program has been highly successful in attracting and retaining new physicians to rural Oregon.

OHSU becomes a public corporation and separates from the Oregon State System of Higher Education. Governance of OHSU changes from the Board of Higher Education to the OHSU Board of Directors, whose members are nominated by the governor and approved by the Oregon Senate.

The departments of Physiology and Pharmacology are merged to enhance the teaching of systems biology.

A program conferring degrees for physicians' assistants is started.

The Primate Center, originally owned and operated by the Medical Research Foundation of Oregon, is transferred to OHSU after the 1994 MRF merger with the Oregon Health Sciences Foundation. The MRF research seed grant program had grown to over one million dollars, the majority going to faculty of the Medical School.

The first of OHSU's primary care neighborhood clinics opens in southwest Portland. Today, there are several OHSU community clinics located throughout the Portland metropolitan area, helping to improve health care access in neighborhood settings and to provide training sites for primary care residents.

Planning begins for the Center for Women's Health, intended to offer a place where women's concerns can be addressed in a comprehensive, comforting and supportive manner. The center uses a collaborative model that encourages women to actively participate in their care.

Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation Medicine becomes a free-standing department rather than a Division of Surgery.

The free-standing Division of Medical Informatics and Outcomes Research is established and offers degrees by online learning.

The first M.P.H. degree is awarded. By 2002, 65 have been issued, including 7 issued to MD/MPH students.

The Mark O. Hatfield Research Center is dedicated. The center houses a variety of basic and clinical research programs that have the potential to spark new therapies through clinical trials. It includes such programs as the Clinical Research Center, the Oregon Hearing Research Center, Doernbecher Children's Hospital Pediatric Research Laboratories, the Bone and Mineral Unit's osteoporosis studies, the Oregon Stroke Center, and the Oregon Cancer Center (now called the OHSU Cancer Institute).

Doernbecher Children's Hospital's new state-of-the-art pediatric medical complex is opened. Attached to the University Hospital, Doernbecher provides the widest range of health services to children in the state and contemporary training facilities for students, residents, and fellows.

The Oregon Cancer Center is established with a grant from the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health. The interdisciplinary center is one of 50 such comprehensive cancer centers nationwide.

Added to the Dean's office are enhanced services to an energized Alumni Association, including graduates of the Ph.D. and Graduate Medical Education programs, and a professional development activity.

An independent Department of Neurological Surgery separates from the Department of Surgery.

439 Master's degrees (mostly M.S.) issued since 1920. 433 Ph.D. degrees issued since 1934 (with a major spurt since 1966).

After conferring 88 baccalaureate degrees, the Physician Assistant Program is converted to a master's degree program. The program places unprecedented emphasis on medically underserved and rural communities.

OHSU's name changes to Oregon Health & Science University with the addition of a biotechnology school.

The six year-old program providing training of physician assistants moves from the Provost's to the Dean's office.

The clinical faculty unite in a practice group with emphasis on patient-centered care.

The Department of Surgery launches a one-of-its-kind rural residency program.

The School of Medicine is ranked 19th in the nation in funding from the National Institute of Health.

Work finishes on the new Biomedical Research Building. This building houses state of the art laboratory space for OHSU researchers.

OHSU names former School of Medicine Dean Joseph Robertson, M.D., M.B.A., as president of the university. Mark Richardson, M.D., M.Sc.B., M.B.A., former chair of the Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, is appointed as dean of the School of Medicine.

OHSU completes two new patient care buildings, the Peter O. Kohler Pavilion on Marquam Hill, and the Center for Health & Healing – the first building on OHSU's new South Waterfront campus, and the nation's first LEED platinum certified medical building. These two buildings are linked by the Portland Aerial Tram.

OHSU School of Medicine, in partnership with Kaiser Permanente, is one of 11 recipients of an NIH grant for translational research (CTSA). The $55 million grant was the largest award in the initial group of recipients.

The School of Medicine embarks on a new strategic plan, emphasizing diversity and academic innovation. The plan is designed to complement the broader initiatives outlined in the University's Vision 2020 strategic plan.

The OGI School of Science & Engineering is integrated into the School of Medicine and OHSU becomes one of the few medical schools in the country with a Department of Biomedical Engineering.

The clinical faculty group votes to reorganize into the Faculty Practice Plan and to move its administration into the School of Medicine Office of the Dean. The Dean becomes President of the Faculty Practice Plan.

In partnership with Portland State University, a Masters of Business Administration in Healthcare Management is offered.

The School of Medicine ranks in the Top 10 of medical schools for its primary care education program for the thirteenth consecutive year as reported in U.S. News & World Report. Of the 125 schools included, OHSU's primary care education program ranked third, rural medicine ranked fourth, family medicine education ranked eighth, and the physician assistant program ranked ninth in the nation.

The OHSU School of Medicine receives a $10 million anonymous gift to establish an endowed M.D. scholarship program – the largest single scholarship gift ever in its history.

A survey published by the Annals of Internal Medicine recognizes the OHSU School of Medicine as eleventh best in the nation for training the most needed physicians. The study, titled "The Social Mission of Medical Education: Ranking the Schools," evaluated if medical schools are meeting society's health care goals.

OHSU announces a $25 million philanthropic partnership with Bob and Charlee Moore – founders of Bob's Red Mill Natural Foods – to establish the Moore Institute for Nutrition and Wellness at OHSU, housed in the School of Medicine.

OHSU, Portland State University and Oregon State University break ground on the OUS/OHSU Collaborative Life Sciences Building - renamed in 2018 the Robertson Life Sciences Building - an innovative project that will bring cutting-edge science education and research Portland's South Waterfront.

The School of Medicine Undergraduate Medical Education program undergoes a full-scale accreditation site visit and review by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) in January – the school's first full-scale review since 2004.

The School of Medicine graduates a record 517 students on June 4, including 172 from master's programs (and the first cohort of MBA in Healthcare Administration graduates), 120 from the M.D. program and 40 from Ph.D. programs.

The Department of Urology becomes the medical school's 27th department.


OHSU launches a $25 million clinical and translational science initiative against lethal, hard-to-treat pancreatic disease.

OHSU receives $1 million from the American Medical Association for the School of Medicine's M.D. Curriculum Transformation Initiative, joining an 11-school national consortium to accelerate change in medical education.

The School of Medicine conducts its first-ever digital State of the School update.


The OHSU/OUS Collaborative Life Sciences Building and Skourtes Tower opens on the Schnitzer Campus in Portland’s South Waterfront District.

After three years of effort, YOUR M.D., the school’s new competency-based curriculum, was launched, marking the beginning of an innovative new educational model that aligns physician education with the goals of health care reform.


A collaboration with Adventist Health, Kaiser Permanente and Legacy Health to open the area’s first comprehensive behavioral health care center.

The formation of OHSU-PNNL National Co-Laboratory for Integrated ‘Omics with the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. The initiative shares research programs and leading-edge technology for biological mass spectrometry in pursuit of disease markers for new therapies.


A year of transition, Dr. John Hunter was appointed interim dean after Dean Mark Richardson  died September 2, 2016.


Dr. Sharon Anderson is appointed dean, the second woman to lead the school.


Dr. David Jacoby is appointed interim dean.


Dr. David Jacoby is appointed dean.


Dr. Nathan R. Selden, M.D., Ph.D. is appointed interim dean