Since its founding in 1843, the Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) School of Medicine has been at the forefront of medical education and research.
In 1852, the medical school became the second allopathic medical school to graduate a woman, Nancy Talbot Clarke. During the next four years, five more women were to graduate from the school, giving it the distinction of graduating six of the first seven female allopathic physicians in the United States.
The school was one of the first to employ instructors devoted to full-time teaching and research, and in 1888, it offered the first required laboratory course in physiology in the United States. In 1910, Abraham Flexner named Western Reserve University (the former name of CWRU) as second only to Johns Hopkins as the best medical school in the country. It drew many faculty from Hopkins in the decade prior to that report.
In 1952, the School of Medicine initiated the most progressive medical curriculum in the country at that time, integrating the basic and clinical sciences. The multidisciplinary program presented integrated views of studying the body, gave students clinical experience in their first year of school, and cultivated students' sensitivity toward the whole patient, the patient's family, and the social context of illness.
Historic research highlights include: Development of the modern technique for human blood transfusion using a cannula to connect blood vessels; first large-scale medical research project on humans in a study linking iodine with goiter prevention; pioneering use of drinking water chlorination; discovery of the cause of ptomaine food poisoning and development of serum against it and similar poisons; first surgical treatments of coronary artery disease; discovery of early treatment of strep throat infections to prevent rheumatic fever; development of an early heart—lung machine to be used during open-heart surgery; discovery of the Hageman factor in blood clotting, a major discovery in blood coagulation research; first description of how staphylococcus infections are transmitted, leading to required hand-washing between patients in infant nurseries; first description of what was later named Reye's syndrome; research leading to FDA approval of clozapine, the most advanced treatment for schizophrenia in 40 years at the time; discovery of the gene for osteoarthritis; and creation with Athersys, Inc., of the world's first human artificial chromosome. Today the CWRU School of Medicine is the largest biomedical research institution in Ohio and the 14th largest in the nation, as measured by funding received from the National Institutes of Health.
Ten years ago, CWRU School of Medicine became the first medical school to provide laptop computers to all of its students. Coupled with wireless zones throughout the medical school, the laptops today allow students to access an electronic curriculum, offering lecture notes, video streaming, and enhanced graphics. This technology enhances faculty—student interaction occurring in classrooms and laboratories.
The School of Medicine has eight Nobel Prize holders among its alumni and former and current faculty, as well as two graduates who have distinguished themselves as U.S. Surgeons General: Jesse Steinfeld, MD, and David Satcher, MD, PhD.