Thomas Jefferson University is dedicated to the health sciences and committed to three areas: educating professionals who will form and lead the integrated healthcare delivery and research teams of tomorrow; discovering new knowledge that will define the future of clinical care through investigation from the laboratory to the bedside and into the community; and setting the standard for quality, compassionate and efficient patient care for our community and for the nation.
A Long Tradition in Excellence
Meeting the Changing Needs of Society for 175 Years
In 1824, when London and Paris each had only one medical school, Dr. George McClellan founded Jefferson Medical College of Philadelphia, the city's second medical college. McClellan's approach to medical education was founded on supervised student participation in the care of patients, at that time a revolutionary approach. Students, however, were quick to appreciate the merits of such instruction: 109 students matriculated in Jefferson's first class, and the school grew quickly in the following years.
During the mid-nineteenth century, Jefferson students had the benefit of a strong college faculty as well as a variety of clinical settings, including the General Dispensary attached to the College, the Blockley Almshouse (Philadelphia Hospital), Pennsylvania Hospital, and Wills Hospital for diseases of the eye. Around 1843, Jefferson began to rent rooms for some of those patients who underwent surgery in the school amphitheater, providing another setting for patient care.
In 1856, a renowned graduate, Samuel D. Gross, M.D. (class of 1828), returned to bestow upon his alma mater a reputation that has lasted to this day. Thomas Eakins's masterpiece portrait, 'The Gross Clinic,' depicts Dr. Gross as a commanding figure in the college's surgical amphitheater. Dr. Gross was pre-eminent in the medical profession. The finest surgeon of his time, an educator of the highest distinction, and author of 14 books, Gross considered himself to be first and foremost a physician who devoted much time to family practice.
More historical information can be found on JEFFLINE, the Scott Memorial Library portal.
From its modest beginnings in George McClellan’s office across from Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, Thomas Jefferson University is today the largest free-standing health center in Philadelphia and Jefferson Medical College is one of the largest private medical schools in the United States. National recognition of the top quality of medical education at Thomas Jefferson University was accorded by Deans and residency directors in 1992 and again in 1993, when Jefferson was ranked the best comprehensive medical school in the United States in surveys conducted by U.S. News & World Report.
Among the most illustrious of Jefferson's more recent faculty and alumni are: John H. Gibbon, Jr., M.D., (Class of 1927), who opened a new era in cardiac surgery with the development of the heart-lung machine; James M. Hunter, M.D., (Class of 1953), who developed the first artificial tendon for use in reconstructing hands; Allan J. Erslev, M.D., who was the first to demonstrate the existence of a renal hormone that stimulated red blood cell production, later known as erythropoietin; Benjamin Kendall, M.D., who made it possible to obtain a prenatal electrocardiogram; Laird Jackson, M.D., who developed a method for first-trimester diagnosis of severe congential disease; Robert C. Gallo, M.D. (Class of 1963), who isolated interleuken-2 and associated the HIV virus with the disease AIDS. Darwin J. Prockop, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the Institute of Molecular Medicine and member of the National Academy of Sciences, discovered the defective gene responsible for producing aortic aneurysms and a gene that causes an unusual form of familial arthritis. Carlo M. Croce, M.D. an internationally renowned geneticist who founded the Jefferson Cancer Institute and the Jefferson Cancer Center, discovered the involvement of immunoglobulin loci and the C-myc oncogene in Burkitt's lymphoma; and identified the gene, bcl-2, that is involved in follicular lymphoma. Drs. Hunter and Jackson are current faculty members. Learn about other notable alumni contributions from the University Archives...
During the twentieth century, Jefferson's clinical facilities expanded continuously. Thomas Jefferson University now occupies a 13-acre urban campus near the Historical Area of central Philadelphia. In 1924, the Thompson Annex was opened, then the tallest hospital building in the world, and in 1954 the new Foerderer Pavilion provided state of the art medical facilities. Opened in June 1978, the Gibbon Building was an innovation in hospital design. Within its nine stories are four 100 bed mini-hospitals, each with its own diagnostic and therapeutic facilities, teaching rooms, and physicians offices.
Renovations completed in 1990, resulted in a state of the art emergency and trauma center with its own operating room. Encompassing three trauma bays, two x-ray rooms, a patient-testing lab and a resuscitation room, Jefferson's emergency and trauma center is one of the few facilities in the United States to be both the topmost level regional resource trauma center and a federally designated spinal cord injury center. Thomas Jefferson University Hospital is one of the area's largest medical centers, with 717 beds. With new operating rooms opened in 1992, a total of 28 operating rooms, as well as various modern surgical support facilities, now service the entire hospital.